Government promises to speed up land reform

Speaking at AFASA’s 4th annual AGM and conference in Pretoria, DRDLR director general Mdu Shabana said that government is ready with the ‘levers’ to speed up land reform.

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These levers include Agricultural Policy Action plan policies, such as the Amendment of Communal Property Associations Act, the Amendment of Extension of Security Act and the Reparation of Land Holdings Act.

Shabane said that organised agriculture’s change in attitude about the need for their participation in land reform will also affect his department’s effectiveness. “[Commercial farmers] saw land reform as government’s job. For the first time we’ve seen farmers coming to us with some very, very good plans.”

The implementation of district land commissions and agriparks will also assist in speeding up the turn-around time for land redistribution. DRDLR aims to distribute 8,8million hectares of land in the next 14 years and Shabane expects to spend over R30 billion on this.

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Delegates welcomed Shabane’s intentions of speeding up land reform but said that tribal leaders weren’t on board when it comes to progressive farming principles and this is preventing communal farmers from improving profits.

They also urged government to allay the fears of commercial farmers who are not reinvesting in their businesses out of uncertainty about property rights.

“South Africa has high food prices because we are not using our agricultural land optimally,” said Ronnie Mckenzie, a farmer from Muldersdrif.

Delegates further complained that white commercial farmers were offering their land to the DRDRL for land reform purposes, but no one gets back to them. The issue of land ceilings and the impact these would have on farmer’s ability to grow their businesses were also raised by delegates.