Zuma's land plan not feasible: TAU SA

By Drum Digital
23 October 2012

President Jacob Zuma's new land reform plan is not feasible, the Transvaal Agricultural Union of SA (Tau SA) said on Tuesday.

"Overall, President Zuma's proposals are not feasible, and may even be counter-productive in terms of food security," said Tau SA president Louis Meintjes.

He was responding to a new land reform proposal made by Zuma in Pretoria on Monday, at the first annual general meeting of the African Farmers' Association of SA (Afasa).

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 stakeholders.

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.

Meintjes said commercial farmers could not pay the cost of land reform.

"If government wants to reform, it has to provide funds for that purpose. It cannot expect... victims to help pay... for it.

"Agriculture cannot assume government's responsibility to handle social grants. Agriculture is an economic, and not a socialistic, activity."

He said Zuma was rightly concerned about rising food prices, but this was, to a large extent, determined by supply and demand.

"Increased production can result in lower prices, but only if other prerequisites are in place, such as adequate water of good quality, as well as efficient and reliable infrastructure. These requirements are responsibilities of government."

He said Tau SA supported the idea that unused land in communal areas, including under-utilised state land, should be brought into commercial production, even if the land was under the control of central, provincial or local government institutions.

"This implies that the required land audit receives urgent attention, because it seems evident that government has no idea of the land under its control."

He said that to use production time for meetings -- which would be to the detriment of landowners, by identifying their land to be sold under market value -- was unethical, and created the potential for tension within communities, and for reduced food production.

"To buy land from whomever at 50 percent of its market value, amounts to expropriation or even nationalisation. Some properties were bequeathed from estates, which means widows and orphans will be affected."

He said the proposal that commercial farmers who participated in the project would qualify for black economic empowerment status and that their properties would be "safe" amounted to extortion.

-by Sapa

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