'White commercial farmers are here to stay' - David Mabuza

2019-03-12 18:47
Deputy President David Mabuza.  (Gallo Images)

Deputy President David Mabuza. (Gallo Images)

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It is "far from the truth" that the government's land reform programme is a punitive measure against white landowners, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Tuesday.

Answering questions in the National Assembly, he said South Africans should guard against "those who want to divide us" with the narrative that whites are being punished. 

"We must desist from using land to fan the flames of hatred," Mabuza said to a fairly sparsely populated House. 

He said the government had been encouraged by white farmers and business leaders who had chosen to work with it. 

"A well-managed land reform programme will pose no threat to the agricultural sector and the economy in general," Mabuza said.

He added that "comprehensive support" would be provided to emerging farmers.

"Commercial farmers have made themselves available to support emerging farmers."

READ: Ramaphosa on land: My own family had land stolen from them more than once, it's a collective pain

Mabuza insisted that the government was committed to orderly land reform.

"There is no need for anyone to be apprehensive about our approach to land reform," he said.

"Land reform will remain a national imperative and, therefore, will remain a priority."

"Pursuing this programme, we are pursuing justice."

He said land reform must be pursued within the confines of the Constitution and rule of law, and as government has done several times before, said that land grabs will not be tolerated.

"Our land reform programme is gaining traction. South Africans are happy to work together."

'Land reform poses no threat to economic sector'

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe responded: "It is misleading to say expropriation without compensation poses no direct threat to the agricultural sector or the economy."

He cited a drop in agricultural production last year and farmers' reluctance to invest in their production capabilities as examples.  

But Mabuza wasn't convinced.

"We insist and we continue to say the land reform programme poses no threat to the economic sector."

DA MP Annette Steyn asked when the 4 200 farms owned by the government would be put into production, and if he could provide a list of people who would be beneficiaries of these farms.

Mabuza said the audit of government-owned land would be completed by April. He said young people and woman who wanted to farm would get these "land parcels", and that a list would be made public.

Later, in an answer to another question, Mabuza reiterated that the government would always discourage "land invasions".

'It's land occupations!" EFF MP Nazier Paulsen interjected: "The land was invaded in 1652."

Mabuza continued, saying he was aware that the EFF was encouraging people to occupy land.

'You’re a public representative!'

Paulsen, one of only four EFF MPs in attendance (they have 25 seats in the National Assembly), jumped up and bellowed: "They must continue to occupy land!"

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli told him to sit down.

"You’re a public representative!" an exasperated Tsenoli added.

Mabuza said he was happy with the constitutional review process.

"But let us not do anything outside the law, because this encourages anarchy."

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald asked how expropriation without compensation was going to help land reform.

Mabuza replied that land reform had been a slow and cumbersome process, which cost a lot of money.

"We want to say to white commercial farmers, they're here to stay, they're here to produce. 

"But we must recognise that we must restore the dignity of the people who were dispossessed of their land."   

Read more on:    david mabuza  |  cape town  |  land  |  land expropriation

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