Parties: No land nationalisation

2010-03-31 22:33

Cape Town - Opposition parties again warned against nationalising land on Wednesday, with the IFP demanding President Jacob Zuma give the same reassurance on the issue as he recently did regarding the nationalisation of mines.

"The issue of nationalisation of farm land is a political evergreen which reappears in the ANC government's public discourse whenever its fortunes seem to be slipping," Inkatha Freedom Party spokesperson Henry Combrinck said.

The IFP had condemned Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti's "renewed ambiguity" on the subject of nationalisation of farms months after government scrapped a controversial draft land expropriation bill.

"Experience in South Africa and abroad suggests that state enterprises are inherently less productive than private ones.

"The mismanagement of nationalised farms in Zimbabwe, which has led to widespread famine, is a case in point," Combrinck said.

'Diversion from land reform programme'

The re-emergence of the nationalisation debate was "a mere diversion from the ANC government's botched attempt at land reform so far, marred by bureaucratic inefficiency and a lack of training opportunities for emerging farmers".

"Many landowners are prepared to co-operate within the framework of the current willing-seller willing-buyer schemes, but a large proportion of these deals are frustrated by endless inefficiency of the very ministry that now seeks to make matters worse by augmenting the role of the state in land redistribution," Combrinck said.

Lourie Bosman of the Democratic Alliance warned South Africa's food security was threatened by the continuous calls for nationalisation of farmland.

"South Africa has to find a balance between, on the one hand, the economic need to maintain its existing agricultural industry that can provide food for all South Africans, and on the other to fulfil the need to develop new farmers and return land to those who were deprived of it," he said.

"What we need from the department of rural development and land reform is recognition of the challenge it faces, and the development of some clear, practical solutions," he said.

Yet, exactly the opposite was happening.

Conflicting statements

The prevailing uncertainty over nationalisation of land due to conflicting statements from the department was likely only to threaten South Africa's continued agricultural production and food security.

"On Monday, the minister came out in support of nationalisation; this was in contradiction to a statement issued by his deputy that nationalisation was not ANC policy."

Nationalisation equalled expropriation without compensation and would result in the demise of a cornerstone of the economy - agricultural production - and would thus result in total disruption of food production and investment in the sector.

Commercial farmers were committed to ensure food security and the constant nationalisation admonitions from the ANC did nothing but create panic in the farming community.

"The minister should rather be issuing assurances to farmers that nationalisation will not be occurring, particularly as farmers need to accelerate food production in line with South Africa's growing population.

"When is Minister Nkwinti going to listen to advice and stop making double-talk statements to the detriment of the country?

"Food security is of utmost importance for continued growth of the economy and job creation in South Africa to fight poverty," Bosman said.