Land policy tussle

Current agricultural and land reform policies are not workable and fair, and sometimes don’t make any sense.

This was according to National African Farmers Union of South Africa (Nafu) president Motsepe Matlala. Speaking at the recent press conference in Pretoria where the new executive committee of Nafu was introduced, he said the policies were discriminative and do not promote harmony in the agricultural sector.

“The Extension of Security of Tenure Act is a clear example of an unfair land policy,” said Matlala. He said the act made no provision for the relocation and compensation of farm dwellers using the farm owner’s resources for grazing. The act also made no provision for non-payment by farm workers for living on the farmer’s property. He said this has led to conflict between farm dwellers and farm owners.

Matlala said Nafu will not be announcing policies until it has held its policy conference, the date of which would be announced in due course. He suggested that Nafu could call for current policies to be scrapped. “At this conference we will interrogate and debate demands such as abolishing land reform and agricultural policies,” he said, adding that Nafu is aware that renegotiating the land reform process would demand huge resources from government.

Meanwhile, Aggrey Mahanjana, general manager of the National Emergent Red Meat Producer’s Organisation, said there was no need to scrap current policies. He said the minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, had already started a process to address some of the ineffective policies through the Green Paper on Land Reform.

“Let’s make use of the Green Paper to address and help fast track land reform,” he said and added that scrapping current policies would mean bringing everything to a standstill. “In the meantime, people must continue accessing land.” Mtobeli Mxotwa, spokesperson for Nkwinti, said the land reform process was in full swing and can’t be stopped.

According to him, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has called all stakeholders to be part of the drafting of new policies through the Green Paper on Land Reform, because some of the old policies are ineffective. Mike Mlengana, president of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa), said Nafu’s call for scrapping the land reform policies indicate that the union is ignorant of current issues. He said Afasa has been part of the extensive consultations where Nkwinti called upon all stakeholders to have an input.