Zuma land plan amounts to blackmail - Solidarity
Zuma's land reform plan amounts to a bullying tactic - Solidarity
Pres. Jacob Zuma's new land reform plan amounts to a bullying tactic and will merely shift a large part of the state's responsibility and expense to implement land reform to the commercial agricultural sector, trade union Solidarity said today. Zuma, speaking at the first annual general meeting of the African Farmers' Association of South Africa (Afasa) earlier this week, proposed that each district should establish a district land reform committee where all stakeholders are involved.
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.'
According to Brink, Zuma's plan will not resolve the existing problems regarding land reform. ‘Challenges like late or non-payment by the state, corruption, red tape and incompetent officials will not vanish if this plan is put into effect.
‘Land reform is a continuous process that has to be negotiated and factually debated by all stakeholders in the agricultural sector. Such a process can only take place if there is mutual trust and if everyone is involved in the process on an equal footing and receives fair treatment. Pres. Zuma's plan sets unreasonable demands to the commercial sector, creates more questions than answers and presupposes a simple solution for a complex issue.'
Statement issued by Eugene Brink, Political analyst: Solidarity Research Institute, October 24 2012
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