According to agriculture minister Senzeni Zokwana, a land reform proposal suggesting that 50% of all commercial farms be given to farm workers “was only published to get the sector talking” about land reform.
The Final Policy Proposals on Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land, released earlier this year by land reform minister Gugile Nkwinti, suggested that 50% ownership of all farms be transferred to farm workers, who would be allocated share percentages based on years of service, with farmers retaining the other 50% share.
Government would pay for the 50% transferred to farm workers, but the money would not go to the farmer. Instead it would be paid into an ‘investment and development fund’ to be jointly managed by all shareholders.
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He had spoken with Nkwinti, who assured him the ‘50% plan’ was “just a proposal,” said Zokwana at the media launch of this year’s Agri Mega Week in Caledon.
The proposal was “meant to bring all farmers around the table to discuss [land reform],” said Zokwana. “The ANC has not moved away from its policy of expropriation with compensation.”
He said he was aware farmers were worried about the effect that land reform would have on their farms and their livelihoods.
Although farmers appreciated Zokwana joining the land reform debate and his assurances that government was aware of the challenges farmers faced, some damage has already been done by the ‘50% plan’, Agri SA president Johannes Möller told Farmer’s Weekly.
The uncertainty created by publishing the 50% land plan for consideration has already had huge implications for investor confidence in the sector, he said.
* Agri Mega Week will take place from 17 to 20 September at Mega Park in Bredasdorp. The theme for this year’s show is ‘Focus on Africa’. On Friday, 19 September, Agri Mega Week will host a debate focussing on the need for solutions to land reform and other challenges in agriculture. Zokwana is set to take part alongside Aggrey Mahanjana from AFASA, Dr John Purchase of Agbiz and political analyst Dr Piet Croukamp.