“Government will have to realise that the hunger for food is greater than the hunger for land,” he told TAU’s annual congress. With the majority of land taken from white commercial farmers and transferred to blacks having gone out of production, he noted, “food security is under pressure and the situation will deteriorate”.Marais also claimed the international community is being lied to about landownership in South Africa.
“Like whites, black people are second-generation occupiers of this country. Therefore their claims are on an equal footing to those of whites. In the history of South Africa, whites have acquired land in accordance with acceptable international methods. The statement is repeatedly made that white people own 87% of the land.”
But according to an investigation of landownership commissioned by the Development Bank in 2001, whites own 44%, the state 25%, blacks 20%, coloureds 9% and Asians 1% of South Africa’s land. “These figures have repeatedly been provided to government and state departments, but they’ve been ignored, probably because they do not reflect government’s ideological objectives.” Marais said the land-reform process in South Africa is increasingly showing similarities to the nationalisation taking place in Zimbabwe.
“Government is clearly busy with a policy of nationalisation by stealth,” he claimed. “Statements about the process of transferring land are not transparent, and land taken from commercial farmers and handed over to claimants is not accompanied by title deeds. Government is not honest with its own supporters.” At the congress, Prof André Duvenhage, research director at North West University, also warned that the ANC’s target of 30% of land redistribution before 2014 is not necessarily the end. “
Government needs to make a clearer distinction between land reform and nationalisation,” he said. “We might not yet be at the point of a type of nationalisation that took place in Zimbabwe, but we are definitely on our way.”