Manuel seeks new look at land reform

By Drum Digital
21 February 2012

Government has "thrown too much money down the chute" on land reform, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Monday.

Opening AgriSa's annual conference in Stellenbosch, he noted the price of agricultural land was very high and often lay fallow - with no investment made in it - before a sale went through.

"The price is very high, and the land lies fallow for a decade, and by the time there is an actual payment, there is no correspondence with the price of the land," Manuel said.

"And so we've actually thrown too much money down the chute. We need to look at this issue very differently."

In his state-of-the-nation address earlier this month President Jacob Zuma alluded to his government's plan to review the willing-buyer-willing-seller principle that had been underpinning land reform since 1994.

Manuel told the conference the issue of land reform was "sensitive".

He did not elaborate, saying only that land reform was necessary and a "constitutional imperative."

Responding to comments from delegates that there was a "blockage" when it came to communicating with government officials at a regional level, he vowed to raise this with Zuma.

Among politicians present at the two day conference, which ends on Tuesday, was Deputy Agriculture Minister Pieter Mulder, who last week controversially raised the historical basis for land reform in the National Assembly.

Manuel, who chairs the National Planning Commission, said South Africa's population was currently around 50 million and was set to rise to 58.5 million by 2030.

This meant farmers would have to increase agriculture outputs by 20% to meet growing demand for food.

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