Land reform – from emotions to rationality

2018-06-14 11:31

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At the ANC’s 54th elective conference in December 2017, two seemingly incompatible positions emerged on the issue of land reform. On the one extreme was a group that called for unconditional expropriation of land without compensation. Another group cautioned against the negative economic impact that such a radical step might have on an already fragile economy.

The latter group had in mind the billions of rands in farm debt guaranteed by privately owned land. No doubt, reckless expropriation, Robert Mugabe-style, would unnecessarily compromise other sectors of the economy such as commercial banks and the state-owned Land Bank.

After a heated debate at the ANC conference in Johannesburg, a compromise position was reached, and a resolution was passed, paving the way for expropriation without compensation with caveats. The conditions were that expropriation would be implemented in such a way that food security should not be compromised and there should be no negative effect on other sectors of the economy.

There have been significant developments since December. Industry players have participated in public debates facilitated by the media, think-tanks and other public forums including Nation in Conversation, the leading facilitators of constructive debates in agriculture.

The policy making processes have reached a stage where parliament is receiving public comments about the desirability of changing the property clause in the Constitution. And the governing party has held a land summit where experts were invited to share their perspectives – a clear indication of willingness to arrive at a well-thought out policy position as promised by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

All these developments have resulted in transformation of the narrative. It has become less emotional and more rational. While uncertainty remains a major concern, it is, to a certain extent, mitigated by the prospect of finding a rational, fact-based and constitutionally sound solution, without which, peril awaits.

Francois Strydom, CEO of the Senwes Group, shares his perspective…

This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Nation In Conversation for News24.

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