Land Act must be reversed: Nkwinti

By Drum Digital
23 October 2012

Loss of land, overpopulation, and overgrazing must be corrected, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said in Pretoria on Tuesday.

"We must reverse the legacy of the 1913 Land Act," he said at the first annual general meeting of the African Farmers' Association of SA (Afasa) this week.

The Native Land Act, also known as the Bantu Land Act, created a system of land tenure which prevented the majority of South Africa from owning land.

Nkwinti was commenting on a new land reform proposal made by President Jacob Zuma at the Afasa gala dinner on Monday evening.

The plan proposed a district-based approach to land reform and its financing.

Each district should establish a district land reform committee, which would involve all concerned parties.

This committee would be responsible for identifying 20 percent of the commercial agricultural land in the district and for giving commercial farmers the option of assisting in its transfer to black farmers.

Nkwinti said concentration of land ownership, where 35,000 farmers were responsible for ninety percent of the country's food production, was unsustainable.

"It's not politics, it's economics. You talk about growth in those circumstances. It is impossible."

He said deforestation and overuse of land caused loss of production.

"We must not only think of land changing hands between white and black."

Policies in the future might be drastically different.

"Tomorrow it might be all farmers [that need support], whether it be black or white."

Agri SA also responded to Zuma's new proposed land plan on Tuesday.

"While there is merit in some elements of this proposal -- derived from Vision 2030 -- they fail to ensure fairness to all parties," its president Johannes Möller said in a statement.

Agri SA agreed that local committees could be tasked to determine land reform needs per district, but it questioned the state's proposal to pay 50 percent of the market value for property, with other land owners in the district volunteering to cover the balance.

"The fiscus has the necessary funds and should make its full contribution in this regard, as stipulated in the Constitution," Möller said.

"To require such additional contributions from land owners in exchange for security of land ownership and attaining black economic empowerment status borders on extortion."

He said the proposal failed to take into account whether a farmer had the financial means to make such a contribution.

Zuma invited comment on the viability of the proposal, and Agri SA said it would respond in greater detail later.

Möller said the challenge was to refrain from merely criticising a well-intentioned proposal and to come up with workable solutions to a complex issue.

-by Sapa

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