AgriSA: Govt to blame

2011-06-30 00:00

AGRICULTURE union AgriSA says farmers should not be punished for the government’s failure to properly manage the land reform process.

Theo de Jager, vice president of AgriSA, said in response to Julius Malema’s call for commercial farms to be expropriated without compensation that the failure of the land reform project to yield results is largely due to government deficiencies.

For the past few months Malema has consistently called for land expropriation as the government fails to meets its land reform targets.

The land reform process has been a thorn in the side of organised agriculture and land claimants alike. Budgetary insufficiency, escalating land prices and prolonged delays in the settlements of the claims have been among the key drivers in the failure.

Even land that has been given to claimants lies in ruins. Last year, the minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwithi, publicly acknowledged that about 90% of the projects are in ruin.

Failure by the government to provide after-claim support has been identified as the primary cause for the collapse of those farms.

Recently Malema labelled white farmers as thieves who stole the land.

However, De Jager took exception to this and in a statement said commercial farmers cannot be treated as if their farms were unlawfully acquired and that they are obstructing land reform. He said the call by Malema for expropriation without compensation is extremely dangerous and could hold catastrophic implications for investor confidence, food security and job creation. The policy has proved disastrous in Zimbabwe.

In the event of expropriation, De Jager said, landowners still deserved to be compensated.

AgriSA hopes that members of the ANC who still adhere to the ideals of the Constitution will act responsibly, he added. — Witness Reporter.

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