Minister rejects nationalisation

The minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, insists that she will not support the nationalisation of agricultural land.

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Speaking at the Agri SA annual policy conference in Stellenbosch, she said, “The nationalisation of land is not ANC policy. There is a discussion document on this which will be argued at the next ANC policy conference, but this document does not call for the nationalisation of land or mines.”

Although her announcement was greeted by applause, Agri SA president Johannes Möller said that it had come as no surprise. “She has stated before that she is not a proponent of the nationalisation of land. But this is not our main concern – we are concerned about the government’s plan to review the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle,” he said.

Joemat-Pettersson confirmed that the ANC would be discussing alternatives to the willing-buyer, willing-seller model at the party’s policy conference later this year and appealed to agricultural organisations to suggest alternatives.

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“Don’t say to government, whenever the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle is mentioned, that land reform is not working because of administrative problems in the land reform department. We know this. We messed up. Come to us with alternatives,” she said.

Möller told Farmer’s Weekly that it was all well and good for her to tell the agricultural sector that it must propose an alternative to land reform but it was government’s job to propose alternatives.
In her speech, Joemat-Pettersson also referred to recent allegations of reckless expenditure after being accused of raking up a R1,6 million hotel bill since her appointment. The matter is being investigated by the Public Protector.

Joemat-Pettersson said that she had spent about four months trying to explain the expenditure. To this Möller responded, “If she’d followed the guidelines set out in the ministerial handbook then she would have nothing to explain.” In response to the minister’s speech, DA MP and parliamentary spokesperson for agriculture Annette Steyn said she was worried about the manner in which the minister was addressing problems in agriculture.

“I get the impression that the agriculture department has lost its focus and is now instead doing the work that should be done by the rural development department,” said Steyn. She referred to an example given by the minister where the department was helping the community in the rural village of Mqanduli grow their own crops as part of the Zero Hunger Programme.