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Nick Serfontein and Dan Kriek offer ‘alternative perspectives on land reform’- South Africa

Two leading farmers, who were part of Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s land reform advisory panel, have released a “supplementary report” after publicly distancing themselves from various recommendations in the panel’s much-anticipated original report.

Dan Kriek, AgriSA’s president, and Nick Serfontein, chairperson of the Sernick Group, says they do not agree with their fellow panellists’ recommendation that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

Kriek and Serfontein released their 226-page report shortly after Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, released the original report in the presence of the other panellists. In the original report, undersigned by, amongst others, Agbiz economist Wandile Sihlobo and prof. Ruth Hall from PLAAS, “several targeted land acquisition strategies” are recommended.

This includes specified conditions for “nil compensation”, including abandoned land, hopelessly indebted land, land held purely for speculative purposes, land held by state entities and not utilised, land obtained through criminal activity, land already occupied and used by labour tenants and former labour tenants, informal settlement areas, inner city buildings with absentee landlords, land donations and farm equity schemes.

Kriek and Serfontein argue, however, that section 25 must be seen as an attempt to mediate between stability and change, by protecting existing property rights, but also allowing for the infringement of these rights to enable significant reforms.

Dan Kriek
“It is my strong argument that it is not the Constitution that stands in the way of implementing successful land reform. However, in the current political reality it might be politically important for parliament to ‘make explicit what is implicit’ in the Constitution.

According to Kriek and Serfontein the original report has many gaps, including:

There was apparently not enough focus on the National Development Plan, the targets it had set, and the progress made in implementing the plan.
No attention was given to the drastically declining number of commercial farmers in South Africa. This holds important implications for land reform and food security.
There is not enough acknowledgement on past state failure, the extent thereof, the reasons for it and how to attempt to address this.
A proper assessment on international best practice was not done.
The economic impact that the debate on expropriation has already had on investment in the agricultural sector has not been considered.
There is not enough focus in the panel report on best practice models and how these can be rolled out at scale.


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