SA minister lauds Zimbabwe land reform

Minister of Public Works Thembelani Nxesi praised Zimbabwe’s land reform process at a recent function attended by farm workers and labour unions in Mbombela, Mpumalanga.

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“The land reform movement in Zimbabwe has been successful: 6 000 white owners were replaced by over 200 000 small black farmers. Under white ownership, the farms employed around 250 000 workers. Today, around 1 million derive a living from smaller scale commercial farming,” said Nxesi. Nxesi called for a ‘national democratic revolution’ in South Africa, advocating the rights of farm workers.

Nxesi said the passing of a new Expropriation Bill would speed up land reform in the country – and “support an orderly and constitutional process of land redistribution”. Democratic Alliance (DA) provincial chairperson James Masango challenged Nxesi’s statements. “If land reform in Zimbabwe was working, then why is that country is in the state it is in? Zimbabwe is not even allowed to export most of their agricultural products, so how can he say that it can be working?”

Masango added that the government was itself responsible for delaying the land reform process. It already owed millions to farmers it has bought land from. “Buying more will just deepen the debt,” he said. Nxesi said production discipline and food security had also been prioritised by the department of rural development.

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“A number of the department’s programmes focus on providing concrete support to black farmers through infrastructure, training and support. “However,” continued Nxesi, “the struggle over land continues. In theory, racial segregation is outlawed. In reality, of course, land ownership and social relations in the countryside still reflect the apartheid legacy.”