AgriSA meets with top US official to talk trade, land expropriation

AgriSA says it plans to discuss a list of farms published with reference to expropriation on social media by a top ANC official in the Northern Cape when it meets with Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, John J Sullivan, on Friday.

The list was published on Twitter by Northern Cape ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga on Tuesday in three tweets. The tweets contained links to screengrabs of nine pages with columns showing the names of farms, their owners, the size of some of the farms and comments. 

Naledi Gaosekwe, a media liaison officer for the ANC in the Northern Cape, confirmed the list was tweeted by the provincial secretary.

The text read "Northern Cape: Land identified for expropriation by ANC PEC (provincial executive committee) when parliamentary processes are finalized".

AgriSA, a federation of agricultural organisations, has called on the ANC in the Northern Cape to retract the list.  

Diplomatic moves 

The meeting with the US official, which AgriSA says was requested by Sullivan, was scheduled before the list was tweeted on Tuesday. Omri van Zyl, Agri SA executive director, told Fin24 on Friday morning that Sullivan would set the agenda of the meeting. 

Van Zyl said it was important that the voices of SA farmers be heard "at the highest echelons" of the international community. 

He said that, at meetings with the international community, AgriSA sought to bring up domestic issues such as expropriation without compensation, as well as trade issues such as market access. 

This will not be the first meeting between AgriSA and the US administration. Van Zyl said the group previously met with the deputy US minister of agriculture for a "intimate discussion" which touched on international trade, as well as expropriation without compensation. Van Zyl said the group had also held meetings with the EU Parliament.

In an earlier statement Van Zyl said AgriSA "condemn[s] the actions by the ANC in the Northern Cape in the strongest terms, and we will deal with it with the utmost sense of seriousness".

'Land identified for expropriation' 

ANC national spokesperson Dakota Legoete asked that Fin24 send him a link to the list, saying he was not aware of the matter. He did not immediately reply to a request for comment. His comment will be added as soon as it is received. 

In response to a request for comment on Friday, Ngxanga said in a statement that the ANC in the Northern Cape is in the process of conducting an audit of all private and state-owned land.

"This is to ensure that once the process of amending section 25 is complete we are able to speedily ensure that the land is distributed to especially young people who are interested in working the land.

"We will as the ANC be consulting with all our structures and the Alliance before and thereafter have engagements with different stakeholders to ensure that this process, as complex as it is ,runs smoothly. Our aim is not to disturb the economy of this Province," he said. 

As News24 reported Thursday, Parliament's ad hoc committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution has said it cannot finish its work before the end of the fifth Parliament next week. The sixth Parliament, which will be convened after the upcoming elections, must be tasked to take up the matter, said the committee. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has on numerous occasions said that land reform will not be implemented in a way that threatens food security or agricultural production. He has described the unequal distribution of land as a "festering sore" that contained the "seeds of instability" if it was not dealt with. 

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