Farms will be paid for, be it into a trust

2014-07-03 00:00

THERE will be no expropriation of land without compensation.

This was the message from Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti after he was grilled by opposition MPs on his new draft land policy during a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting yesterday. At the same time, he agreed with United Democratic Movement MP Mncedisi Filtane that there should be limits placed on foreign land ownership, and that properties should be leased instead.

“Agitating about the expropriation of land doesn’t speak to reality. The reality is that we are a constitutional democracy and we need to follow the Constitution. We need reasonable policy proposals to reflect the reality of South Africa today,” said Nkwinti.

This followed an appeal by Economic Freedom Fighters MP Andile Mnxitama for the Constitution’s clause on property rights to be changed.

Mnxitama said, “We have a land crisis and we have a solution. The organisation I come from has offered you our votes to get a majority to amend the Constitution to enable the expropriation of land without compensation. Till then, everything else that we discuss is ­irrelevant.”

Nkwinti responded to questions saying when there were claims to the land, “we will buy it by using the just and equitable principle in the Constitution”.

All the land reform changes proposed by his ministry emerged from ANC policy, he said. This included five bills that would be put to Cabinet by the end of the year. Two were the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill, which would deal with the declaration of all foreign and domestic land ownerships leading to the establishment of a Land Commission, and also the Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Bill to offer legal protection for farmworkers.

While Nkwinti objected to Mnxitama’s call on expropriation, he welcomed the EFF’s warning that farmers who feared the implementation of his draft new land proposal could embark on mass evictions. He said a panel of lawyers were ready to defend people free of charge. The draft policy proposes a 50% share equity scheme for long-term farm dwellers.

The state will pay for the 50% portion into a development and investment trust “jointly owned by the parties constituting the new ownership regime”.

This has been criticised by some as effectively expropriating land.

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