ANC set to shake up land policies
Pieter du Toit, Beeld
Cape Town - The ANC is planning a moratorium on the sale of land to foreigners, in order to speed up land reform.
This measure, along with the new green paper on land reform, will be discussed on Saturday at a meeting of the party's social transformation committee, under the guidance of Lindiwe Sisulu.
The expropriation bill is among the proposed legislation which will be discussed.
According to the agriculture sector, these discussions could result in "radical" policy changes.
It will bring clarity regarding suggestions to limit farmers' land ownership as well as the proposed land management commission's functions.
This is part of the ANC's plans to renew land reform policy and do away with the principle of willing buyer/seller as a condition for government's purchase of private agricultural land for reform purposes.
The party decided at its recent national general council that legislation should be put in place soon, while foreigners' land ownership is limited.
The green paper has been dragging along for months amid allegations about a split within the ANC over certain resolutions.
"The land reform policy has, up until now, corresponded with the white paper on land reform of 1996 and the Constitution... why it suddenly needs to be changed is unclear, and we expect a radical shift in emphasis," said Annelise Crosby from Agri SA's legal department.
The finalisation of the green paper comes at a time when the department of land reform and rural development has admitted to missing its target for land reform and restitution in the previous financial year.
According to its report for the 2009-'10 financial year, the department was able to conclude less than 10% of its more than 1 600 land claims.
Of the 131 claims that were considered, only 33 were concluded.
The department also failed in its efforts to acquire 656 000ha agricultural land as government was only able to obtain about 240 000ha.
Annette Steyn, DA MP and spokesperson on land reform, says Minister Gugile Nkwinti's department "is in chaos".
"And the green paper, which will guide reform and restitution, is being based on this department's judgement.
"The ANC keeps emphasising the failure of the 'willing buyer/seller' principle, but no-one has provided any supporting evidence.
"How can they claim this if the government doesn't even know precisely how much land has been bought, how many properties have pending claims and how much land has been distributed since 1994?"
The auditor general based his negative conclusions about the department's financial affairs partly on the fact that government still has no comprehensive register of property.
Dr Nozizwe Makgalamele, director general of rural development and land reform, admits in the annual report that "in general there are insufficient skills within government to manage (government) land."
Attempts to reach ANC spokespeople Jackson Mthembu and Ishmael Mnisi were unsuccessful.