Land reform a complete failure – Vink

“Land reform has been a failure in every single respect and this failure will haunt South Africa for the next 20 years,” said Prof Nick Vink of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University, at the recent Red Meat Abattoir Association conference in Stellenbosch.

The sum spent by government on land reform was close to R69 billion, and it has budgeted another R14 billion on land reform over the medium term – “so within the next 20 years South Africa would have spent about R83 billion,” said Vink.
Government initially aimed to distribute 30% of agricultural land by 2014, but so far only 10% of land had been transferred. According to Vink, R83 billion should have been enough to purchase 58% of all productive agricultural land in SA.

Vink spoke about the effects of the minimum wage increase, saying that while job cuts were likely, these might not be as far-reaching as initially feared. “Labour cost accounts for about 25% of total production costs, so it’s a major cost component, but it’s difficult to calculate the exact number of job losses that will occur because of the increase in the minimum wage,” said Vink.

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“Some estimates show that in the top 10 agricultural industries in SA about 80 000 jobs could be cut. While this amount seems plausible, it could also end up being much less. Over time, I believe we’ll see the farm work- force grow smaller with more skilled, better-paid workers. “Unfortunately this will result in an increase in unemployment among the lowest skilled workers. Farmers will probably be blamed for this while government sits back and does nothing,”