JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s Rural Development and Land Reform minister Gugile Nkwinti yesterday ruled out Zimbabwe-style violent seizure of white-owned commercial farm.
Report by New Age
Mkwinti said voices calling for the expropriation of land without compensation were out of line with the constitution and the requirements of a democracy’s dispute resolution process.
“The country should find a constitutional way of land redistribution to secure peace and stability for the country’s future,” Nkwinti said.
“Two wrongs do not make a right. Therefore, it is important for South Africa, as a constitutional democracy, ‘to correct what was done wrong in a just manner’.”
South Africa has a target to deliver 30% of the country’s land into the hands of black farmers by 2014. Responding to a question of whether the deadline was realistic, Nkwinti’s deputy minister, Solomon Lechesa Tsenoli, said: “We will fast-track our land reform programme to avail land to people who have demonstrated agricultural capacity.”
He said Zimbabwe-style land grabs would be pre-empted as the department was involved in communicating the support it was giving to people who received land.
“We will try to avoid what happened in Zimbabwe. We will provide evidence of our activities and support for emerging farmers,” Tsenoli said.
Nkwinti said it was the role of community leaders to identify people who had demonstrated a “commitment, willingness and passion” for farming, at times without State funding and to make sure that these people where the chief beneficiaries of the land redistribution.
The future of the country was bright as some commercial farmers had agreed to mentor emerging farmers. Like any other projects, the country’s land reform programme was not without its challenges. This year, government will have to fork out R1,3bn to bail out farmers in distress.
Another issue of concern was that the government had made huge losses because some of the land acquired in 1994 and 1995 had been repossessed and auctioned because it was not being put to use.
Nkwinti admitted to “wastage of money” in that regard.
Delegates at the business meeting praised the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform for putting forward a gender-sensitive land programme.
Tsenoli closed the meeting by saying: “We are gender activists.”