Protecting the interests of a few

I refer to “New bill needs to better define value” in Farmers Weekly of 14 March. Those who are calling the Property Valuation Bill a “quick fix” are still hellbent on retaining the economic interest of only a few.

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The willing-buyer, willing-seller policy of land redistribution has been slow in achieving its mandate.

This policy has so far allowed property owners to block redistribution efforts, as property owners refuse to have their property expropriated and hold the government to ransom by demanding exorbitant prices.

As much as we live in a democratic country and our Constitution recognises the right of ownership of land, we take into account the fact that white people inherited this land in an unjust manner.

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The reason the majority of blacks are trapped in the cycle of poverty is a result of brutal policies such as the 1913 Natives Land Act. The current government faces the daunting task of reversing this, to give back to communities land forcefully taken without compensation.

Government is implementing what we, the people, have mandated it to do. But it should come as no surprise that some claimants opt for financial compensation. These people are in dire need of resources and mistakenly value cash more than land.

This is where government intervention is needed. These communities must be encouraged to take land and be given support for a period to ensure they eventually live off the land.

If a policy like the Property Valuation Bill is not instituted, the state would be buying land, sometimes at inflated prices, and would not have funds left to assist communities with tools, seed and skills.

The same groups that list the failures of government in assisting emerging black farmers ignore government’s calls to mentor these emerging farmers once they receive land. Some even sell non-arable land to the state, costing the taxpayers extra to rehabilitate the land.