Belgium pledges €30m to SA for land reform

Minister Didier Reynders (pictured) and Minister Lindiwe Sisulu signed a memorandum of understanding on enhanced cooperation between the two countries. (Supplied, Dirco)
Minister Didier Reynders (pictured) and Minister Lindiwe Sisulu signed a memorandum of understanding on enhanced cooperation between the two countries. (Supplied, Dirco)

The Belgian government committed €30m to South Africa's land reform process, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu said on Monday after a meeting with that country's deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, Didier Reynders.

Speaking at a press conference after their meeting, Reynders emphasised the need for balance in South Africa's process of amending the Constitution.

"We are sure that we need to go firm on the process of land reform because it was at the beginning [of] the reconciliation process of the country," Reynders said.

He acknowledged the current parliamentary process relating to the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation, describing it as the "best way".

"The importance of the process is to be smooth," Reynders said. "Of course, we need to see a balanced situation."

He pledged Belgium's help.

"It's a difficult issue in many countries, so we need to be sure it is a balanced process. We don't want to express an extreme view on that," Reynders said. 

WATCH: Farmer hands over state-of-the-art R30m village to his 150 workers

Sisulu said Reynders indicated to her that South Africa should perhaps educate the world about its stance on land. 

"Maybe we are misunderstood. And I appreciated his advice and told him that we are doing something about it to educate the world about what we are doing to redistribute the land," Sisulu said.

"The bottom line which has come through is the Belgian government has understood our position, has from the beginning been with us, [has] committed €30 m to the process," Sisulu said. 

"What the minister pointed out to me is we need to educate the world so that we don't have a situation that we [had] about a month ago, that we have a misrepresentation of what we want to do. I was grateful for that kind of indication from him."

In August, American broadcaster Fox News aired a factually incorrect insert about land reform in South Africa, prompting a tweet from US president Donald Trump. 

A few days, while on a state visit to SA, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK supported President Cyril Ramaphosa's approach to land reform and believed it could potentially unlock further investment opportunities in Africa.

Also on Monday, COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota and AfriForum announced that they would lobby foreign embassies in South Africa to put pressure on the government to not amend the Constitution.

Lekota's party said that it first wanted to discuss the issue of lobbying foreign missions.

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