'No plans' to nationalise land
Pieter du Toit, Beeld
Cape Town - Plans to "nationalise" all South African agricultural land do not exist within ANC structures.
That is what Stone Sizane, ANC MP and chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee for rural development and land reform, said on Tuesday.
According to him, the department had "spoken out of turn" when it presented its controversial strategic plan to MPs two weeks ago, and public debate about the matter should wait until the new green paper on land reform has been tabled.
This follows the department's controversial suggestion that all productive agricultural land be declared a nation asset, and that the ownership rights entrenched in Section 25 of the Constitution be revised.
This caused a great amount of concern in agricultural circles and has led to a string of crisis meetings in all nine of the country's provinces.
Although Sizane's statements were the first pertinent reprimand of director-general Thozi Gwanya's plans, it's still not exactly clear what the ANC and the government's plans are.
Since the presentation of the controversial strategic plan, state officials have made a number of contradictory statements. The budget speech of Gugile Nkwinti, minister of rural development and land reform, on Wednesday at 14:00, should indicate the new direction.
Ben Marais, president of the agricultural organisation TAU SA, said he's not convinced by Sizane's statement, and he feels there is some dishonestly in the government.
Sizane reacted to a suggestion from the DA MPs Annette Steyn and Mpowele Swathe to have a reference to a "land nationalisation plan" removed from a committee report which followed the committee's sitting regarding the strategic plan.
He explained that its inclusion does not mean the committee approves of it or that they are thoroughly informed about the plans. It is merely an acknowledgement that MPs are aware that such suggestions will be included in the green paper on land reform.
"I'm just as concerned about this issue as you are," Sizane told Steyn.
"I can assure you there is no document in the ANC which refers to the nationalisation of anything like game farms or making agricultural land (a national asset)... such plans (the nationalisation of land) have not been presented to the ANC and has also not been heard by the Cabinet.
"The department was speaking out of turn and the public debate is cause for great concern.
"The statements (about the nationalisation of land) were made before we could even discuss the issues surrounding such a plan. I think all of us in the committee are concerned about this," Sizane added.