Trevor’s plan for land reform & agriculture

If government succeeds in implementing the National Development Plan, over 11 million jobs will be created by 2030. Denene Erasmus looks at the plan’s ramifications for the agriculture sector.

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The revised National Development Plan (NDP) presented by Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel in parliament recently was met with enthusiasm, although opposition parties have expressed concern over the ANC’s ability and will to implement the suggestions made in the plan.

The plan’s authors – the National Planning Commission (NPC) headed by Manuel – have put forward ambitious strategies for the various economic sectors in the country intended to reduce the unemployment rate from the current rate of 24,9% to 14% by 2020 and to 6% by 2030. This would require an additional 11 million jobs.

In the chapter ‘Inclusive Rural Economy’, some of the objectives include creating 643 000 direct jobs and 326 000 indirect jobs in the agriculture, agro-processing and related sectors by 2030 and maintaining a positive trade balance for primary and processed agricultural products.

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The NDP further suggests rural economies be activated through “improved infrastructure and service delivery” and by substantially increasing investment in irrigation infrastructure in the Makhathini Flats and Umzimvubu River Basin. The plan also places a strong emphasis on improving regional agricultural trade and strengthening trade with fast-growing markets in Asia and Brazil. Intra-regional trade in Southern Africa should increase from 7% of total trade to 25% of total trade by 2030 and South Africa’s trade with its regional neighbours should increase from 15% to 30%.

Land reform
According to the NDP, land reform is necessary to unlock potential for a “dynamic, growing and employment-creating agricultural sector.” It proposes a land reform model based on “ensuring a more rapid transfer of agricultural land to black beneficiaries without distorting land markets or business confidence in the sector.” The recommended model will see district level committees identify 20% of commercial agricultural land in a district from land already on offer to “ensure land can be found without distorting markets”.

Commercial farmers in the district will then be given the option of assisting in the land’s transfer to black farmers.
The NDP further suggests that land be bought by the state at 50% of the market value, because this would be “closer to the fair productive value of the land”. The 50% shortfall experienced by the current owner will be made up by “cash or in-kind contributions from commercial farmers who volunteer to participate”.

Speaking at the launch of the NDP in parliament, Manuel described it as “a plan for a better future; a future in which no
person lives in poverty, where no one goes hungry, where there is work for all, a nation united in the vision of our Constitution.” He said that according to a simple poverty test of R432/person/month, 39% of South Africans are living below this line and that, by 2030, no one should live in poverty.

He said that through the creation of 11 million jobs over the next two decades, per capita income should rise from about R50 000/person to about R120 000/person, and the share of income accruing to the ‘poorer’ 40% of the population should rise from 6% to 10%. At the launch, President Jacob Zuma said he believed the objectives set out in the plan are achievable “if we set our sights to it, and transform and de-racialise the economy to enable it to perform in a manner that will enable growth and job creation.”

Opposition parties
Opposition parties aren’t convinced that the NDP’s goals can be achieved. DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, said the NDP’s success or failure will entirely depend on whether the president rises to the challenge of aligning his policies with the goals and objectives of the plan. “This is the hard part. This requires more than the NDP simply being accepted as a planning framework by the government. Each annual budget must have precise targets and time-frames that correspond to the plan,” said Mazibuko.

IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi said his party supports the plan, but struggles to “embrace the credibility of intention to implement this plan as the genuine priority of the ruling party”. “Perhaps the most pivotal question is where does the National Democratic Revolution fit into the National Development Plan? Because clearly this is not something the ruling party is going to abandon, regardless of how it might clash with the good intentions and commendable policy ideals contained in the plan,” said Buthelezi.