Farmers suggest new model in land reform

THE African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa) in the Free State has called for a second model to the land reform programme to complement the existing Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (Plas) programme.

The body strongly maintains such a move will expedite the current land reform process and also save government money in the process.

The decision to table another proposed model to the existing Plas one was taken recently (on 29 July) at the Afasa and the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (Nerpo) Free State annual congress held in Frankfort.

Afasa Free State said the current land reform process through the Plas was bogged down by inadequate budgets and red tape which are slowing down the process of acquiring land for redistribution.

Shadrack Mbhele, Afasa Free State president, said the slow pace of land reform in the province was frustrating to the transformation progress as land availability continues to be a challenge.

Mbhele said many farmers in the Free State have applied for land.

However, their applications still remain on long waiting lists as budgets are already exhausted for the year 2015-’16.

He said, according to information they received, only R5 million was allocated to each of the five districts in the Free State.

“How much land will be purchased with R5 million?

“You’d be very lucky if you can find one farm under R5 million in the Free State,” said Mbhele.

Maseli Letuka, Nerpo Free State chairman, has urged the minister of Rural Development and Land Reform to seriously consider the proposal the province had tabled.

He said not only will this new proposed model fast-track the process, but it will save government a lot of money.

Letuka further urged government to subsidise the land acquisitions with up to 50% of the market price.

“Through this model, farmers will have to identify the farms that are on the market and which they are interested in buying.

“They will then start negotia-ting with the seller and once there is an agreement, the farmer must then inform the office of the land valuer general.

The land valuer general will then determine if the price agreed on, is market related.

“Once this farm has gone through the land valuer process, the farmer can then approach the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) for 50% subsidy.

“Once the subsidy has been approved, farmers can approach financiers of their own choice Z preferably the Land Bank Z with the approval from DRDLR, which in this instance could serve as either deposit or collateral.

“These mortgage loans should not be shorter than 30 years and must have a fixed interest rate of not more than 5%.

“This will make repayments lighter and affordable to black farmers,” Letuka elaborated.

According to Aggrey Mahanjana, Afasa secretary general, the model will eliminate more than 70% of the red tape involved in the current land acquisition process.

Through this, more responsibility will be given to the farmer than to the department, which has a lot to deal with already.

“The model also ensures that farmers get exactly the farms they want which are suitable to their enterprises.

“This will therefore make their chances of succeeding a lot higher.

“In the current process, farmers sometimes find themselves having to accept any farm made available to them Z whether it is suitable or not for their enterprises Z due to the fears of losing the opportunity to acquire land,” Mahanjana concluded.

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