Responses to the Zuma’s new land reform proposal
As expected, comment and critique has been flowing on the new land reform proposals (link)
The Mail and Guardian has comment from Ruth Hall of Plaas and Charl Senekal, who is one of the country’s mega-farmers. They obviously come from very different ideological spaces, but both critique the policy (link):
““Unfortunately, a lot of what is being said by the president is heavy on rhetoric and short on detail,” Ruth Hall, senior researcher at the University of the Western Cape’s institute for poverty, land and agrarian studies told the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday.
While Hall commended the government’s attempts to speed up land reform, she argued the process needed to be handled very carefully.
“Setting up localised partnerships is a vital ingredient to the process of equitable land reform,” said Hall, who has written and commented extensively on land and agrarian reform.
“But, how exactly commercial farmers will become involved in a process that is encouraging them to accept below market value is the big question.”
Farmer Charl Senekal, South Africa’s largest sugar cane producer, said any attempts to facilitate the sale of land below market should not be entertained. ”It is enshrined in our Constitution that we will be paid a market value rate for our land,” he told the M&G.
Senekal also warned about the possibility of food insecurity emerging in the country’s agricultural industry if equitable land reform is not pursued.
“If farmers lose interest in this industry when they see the opportunity for success is dwindling, that will immediately lead to food insecurity and if you thought the disquiet in the mining sector was bad – you haven’t seen the worst of what will come,” he said.
Senekal’s concerns were echoed by Johannes Moller, president of Agri SA – South Africa’s largest agricultural trade association – who described the proposals for productive value-based land reform “dangerous and unworkable”.
“We think we should stick to market value-based land reform. If not, the security needed for a replacement industry for farmers leading the sector will be lost and you will be faced with further unemployment and other related problems,” he told the M&G.”
Solidarity have also released a statement (Full statement here):
”Eugene Brink, political analyst at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), said the plan, in terms of which the land reform committee will arbitrarily identify 20% of the commercial agricultural land in each ‘district’ and the state will buy it at 50% of its market value, is not a win-win solution. ‘The plan will benefit upcoming farmers at the expense of established farmers - who are already under pressure - and only if the new farmers are successful. This plan presupposes that farmers who cooperate will not be targeted for land reform again. It sketches a scenario that if commercial farmers assist upcoming farmers to make their farms viable, they will be left alone in future, which amounts to blackmail.’
Brink said the plan further entails that neighbouring farmers will be expected to subsidise the expropriation of land. ‘Farmers who hold on will be penalised and farmers who throw in the towel will be rewarded, which is a warped solution. The state will get bargains from commercial farmers, who bought the land on their own and made it productive, and will make it available to “upcoming farmers” free of charge, thereby distorting the market even further. One can expect with reasonable certainty that the proposed land reform committees will be set up in such a manner that the voices of farmers - the landowners - will be easily muffled.’”
University of Cape Town