News24

Land minister 'has forked tongue'

2010-03-30 18:07

Cape Town - A warning by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti that commercial farmers must co-operate to avoid a situation in South Africa "worse than Zimbabwe" has drawn sharp reaction from the agricultural union TAU-SA and the Freedom Front Plus.

Nkwinti's statements, reportedly made during an interview with eNews, were "irresponsible", the union's president, Ben Marais, said on Tuesday.

"We see Minister Nkwinti's remarks as an ill-camouflaged threat to farmers that their land can be occupied the Zimbabwe way if they are not prepared to give their land away.

"TAU-SA regards this as a subtle command to militants to occupy land to intimidate farmers," he said.

Marais questioned why government wanted more land.

"They had to admit several times that most of the land reform projects have failed totally... grabbing land in the Zimbabwe way will also lead to farms going unproductive and food security (being) threatened."

Apology from minister wanted


Marais said that given the "loaded situation" in the country, statements such as Nkwinti's should not be permissible.

He called on Nkwinti to apologise, or for his remark to be repudiated by President Jacob Zuma.

In a separate statement on Tuesday, the Freedom Front Plus also labelled Nkwinti's reference to Zimbabwe irresponsible.

"The farmers have been co-operating for a long time already, but it is the government and its incompetent officials who do not co-operate.

"The fact that Nkwinti shares the views of black South Africans - that land has to be nationalised - is in contrast with what he said last week in Parliament. Nkwinti therefore speaks with a forked tongue," FF Plus land reform spokesperson Pieter Groenewald said.

The minister's remark created the impression that he "subconsciously encourages" Zimbabwean-type land reforms.

This, he cautioned, was "not in the interest of anybody in South Africa".