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Government open to negotiating with farm owners on expropriation

The government is open to negotiating with farm owners to find viable solutions to  land expropriation without compensation, says rural development & land reform minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. 

Meanwhile, the joint constitutional review committee is pushing to finalise its report and recommendations by Thursday over the need for a constitutional amendment to ease expropriation of land without compensation. The land reform drive has sparked huge concern in the agricultural sector and the rest of the economy.

National Freedom Party MP Ahmed Shaik Emam asked the minister in parliament last week whether she would  consider negotiating with farm owners in order to create a “win-win situation” to find more viable alternatives to land expropriation without compensation. .                                                     

In her written reply Nkoana-Mashabane said she is prepared to negotiate with farm owners to find viable alternatives such as joint ventures between farm owners and beneficiaries of land restitution.

 
“However, the constitutional review committee has to first conclude its process on reviewing section 25 of the constitution. The parliamentary process must first be concluded,”  she  said. “In the meantime, the president has established an interministerial committee on land reform that is led by the deputy president, and appointed the panel of experts to provide technical support to the interministerial committee.”
This is the root of all our problems related to land reform and the establishment of black commercial farmers. Too many ministers often promote their own views, instead of that of a unified policy position and the necessary support mechanisms that are critical for long-term sustainability.
Christo van der Rheede
AgriSA deputy executive director
The committee is finalising measures to fast-track land reform and to address deal with challenges faced by land recipients.

 Christo van der Rheede, AgriSA deputy executive director, said the minister has to stop pushing her views and engage directly with commercial agriculture.

“This is the root of all our problems related to land reform and the establishment of black commercial farmers. Too many ministers often promote their own views, instead of that of a unified policy position and the necessary support mechanisms that are critical for long-term sustainability,” Van der Rheede said.

The organisation has previously said there was no need to amend the constitution as it already  provides for expropriation under certain circumstances.

The committee, set up by parliament, held hearings across SA and received hundreds of thousands of written representations. It was initially scheduled to report to parliament by the end of September. However, the committee requested an extension, citing the volume of submissions.

According to the draft report, there was overwhelming support at the public hearings for a constitutional amendment. However, the report indicates that 65% of valid written submissions were opposed to changing the constitution while 34% were in favour of an amendment.

Some commentators have warned that wholesale expropriation of land without compensation will threaten food security and negatively affect economic activity and job creation as the country battles with high unemployment.

However, President Cyril Ramaphosa and senior government officials insist any expropriation will be carried out in an orderly way that will not disrupt food security.

It remains unclear whether parliament will be able to process legislative amendments before the 2019 elections.

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