However, organised agriculture responded to these media reports saying despite the support shown by the ANC for the plan no final policy existed for its implementation.
Media reports on the ANC’s recent National General Council indicated that the ruling party had accepted the 50/50 land reform policy proposal as ANC policy. Some of these reports quoted Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) minister Gugile Nkwinti, as saying that the policy has been endorsed by the council.
But a statement issued by Free State Agriculture (FSA) said that these media reports should not be misinterpreted and that no final policy existed about the 50/50 proposal which is contained in the ‘Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land’ policy proposal.
FSA quoted Annelize Crosby, Agri SA’s parliamentary representative, as saying that Minister Nkwinti indicated during his budget speech earlier this year that he will be open to a more flexible approach to his original proposal.
“The Minister indicated that a number of models, based on voluntary participation and commercial viability, will be tested over a four year period,” FSA said. “Free State Agriculture wants to make it clear that this proposal is currently being tested by means of pilot projects that will be undertaken for a period of four years. The monitoring of these project will be done by the inter-ministerial task team appointed to drive the process,” the organisation said in the statement.
“This is a very sensitive matter, which needs to be understood in context”, said Ernest Pringle, chairperson of Agri SA’s agricultural development policy committee, in a statement.
According to Agri SA, Minister Nkwinti’s original proposal amounted to a “rigid, forced confiscation of 50% of every farm in favour of workers by applying a fixed formula, without any direct compensation being payable to landowners”. This proposal was rejected by Agri SA and many other stakeholders as “unworkable, damaging to the sector and quite possibly unconstitutional”.
Pringle said that minister Nkwinti has since consulted with stakeholders and challenged organised agriculture to bring alternative proposals to the table.
“It is still Agri SA’s expectation that this is indeed the basis on which the pilots will be run. This assertion is in line with a presentation by a ministerial task team made as recently as 4 October 2015. Agri SA, therefore, require urgent clarification of the correct wording and interpretation of the policy decision taken by the governing party in this regard,” said Pringle.