AgriSA head plays down prospects for land grab

2012-09-18 00:00

THE strength of the Constitution and the influence of big business in government would be key factors in preventing the country from sliding towards the “Zimbabwe style” of land reform, says organised agriculture.

Agri SA president Johannes Möller told land owners attending the Kwanalu conference last week that there was no need to panic yet.

“I cannot say that the Zimbabwe style of land reform will happen here, and I also cannot say it will not happen here because all the factors that are an influence all over Africa are also an influence here in South Africa.”

“There are three things that I believe will prevent the country from going that route. The first is our Constitution; we have a very strong constitution and I believe that it will play an important role in preventing that from happening.”

“The second influence is big business. Almost 80% of corporate taxes come from big businesses and I believe they have much influence with the government and they could tell the government, ‘if you are doing this, we are out of here’.”

“The third thing is the urbanisation of the South African population. Many people do not live on the land and buy their food from the supermarkets,” Möller said.

The delegates highlighted the need to invest in and protect the agricultural industry, saying it would be key to developing the KZN economy.

Peter Miller, a member of the KZN Planning Commission and a special adviser to Premier Zweli Mkhize, told delegates negotiations were under way to unlock the value of land held under the Ingonyama Trust.

He said that in the next 20 years, they envisioned that at least one million hectares under the trust would be leased to people living on that land so they could engage in commercial farming.

It was inconceivable that such a vast area of land was underused and that a few commercial farmers who did not live on that land were expected to feed so many people.

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