'Setback for land reform in SA'

Category General

KwaZulu-Natal's commercial agriculture union, Kwanalu, and AgriSA want clarity on President Jacob Zuma's plan for land ownership, which he announced in his State of the Nation address last week.

In a statement yesterday, Kwanalu's chief executive, Sandy la Marque, said the president's announcement that foreigners would be barred from owning land and that individual South Africans may not own more than 12 000ha was an act of bad faith, had undermined investor confidence and created confusion in the sector.

She said, in their view, the constitutionality of the announcements was also questionable.

"The Rural Development and Land Reform Minister, Gugile Nkwinti, called for proposals on these issues from the sector with the deadline for submission by March 20.

"We are really disappointed. The minister assured us of the opportunity to advise on the land process. He had agreed on time frames which are coming up in a few weeks," she said.

La Marque said the statement had created doubt about the government's commitment to the process of consultation.

She said the sector was committed to sustainable reform and working with the government to find solutions to transformation in agriculture which were economically viable.

Sithembiso Mahlaba, the president of the Landless People's Movement in KZN, said while he agreed with Zuma's pronouncement on foreign ownership of land, the 12 000ha cap was counter productive.

"It seems that he is limiting even those who are black and who want to farm. When we have the skills - which many don't have at the moment - there are those who would want to farm more than that," Mahlaba said.

In the State of the Nation address last year, Zuma announced the re-opening of the land claims application process which resulted in 7 000 claims lodged in KZN between August and October 2014, according to official provincial government reports.

La Marque said if the trend over those three months was extrapolated over the period until the deadline in 2019, about 70 000 claims could be lodged in KwaZulu-Natal alone.

There were still 2 196 outstanding restitution claims in KwaZulu-Natal relating to the initial land claim application process that opened in 1996, she said.

Author: IOL

Submitted 19 Feb 15 / Views 2606