Corruption hampers land reform – ANC

The ANC is adamant that the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle must be replaced, but not by land grabs.

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Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general of the ANC, told delegates at the Agri SA congress in Johannesburg recently that an uncontrolled, unsystematic approach to land distribution would not work. “But land redistribution has become a source of corruption and this makes the market forces inefficient. When this happens, state intervention is the result.” Mantashe said the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle should be replaced by a just and equitable principle.

Mantashe said that the Land Valuer-General was addressing the issue. “This will help the state deal with the effect of middlemen who contribute to the inflating of land prices, which is enormous.” nBut Dr Theo de Jager, deputy president of Agri SA said that agriculture could not survive without the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle. “This will kill investment in the sector. Why would any farmer spend thousands to replant orchards if they know they won’t get their money back?”

De Jager said Agri SA made a decision to support land reform, but did not realise it would be so badly implemented. “Restitution won’t be over in the next 10 years unless there is a drastic change in policy.” Mantashe said that although land reform was important, government did appreciate that farming was primarily about food security and food production. “Everything else must be secondary. Land reform should not be about taking out a white face and putting in a black face. There must be improved food security.”

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“It must be realised that farmers are driven by interest and commitment. Those who are beneficiaries of government programmes without showing any interest will contribute to more land lying fallow.” Mantashe said that the land audit must be completed. “We are insisting on it, because we must know what we are talking about. We can’t guess. I suspect there is more land going to black people who have bought privately than what government has redistributed.”

De Jager said the manner in which the government defined land reform success needed to be reviewed. “It is not measured in the number of hectares or the amount of beneficiaries, but in profitable enterprises.” He told farmers that if they did not take the initiative and come up with a decent plan for land reform then there would be problems. “We are doing this for ourselves because we won’t farm in peace and with a profit if we can’t make land reform work in a sustainable way.

“Farmers are the key role players in land reform. The buck stops with you.”