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50/50 land ownership policy a 'breakthrough'

Politics

Durban – The Kwazulu-Natal government has hailed as a breakthrough its 50/50 land ownership policy aimed at accelerating land reform in the province while promoting close co-operation between white farmers and recipients.

Premier Willies Mchunu announced on Wednesday during the State of the Province Address in Pietermaritzburg that the community of Muden, near Greytown, had entered into a “50/50 voluntary land share programme”.

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KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu File picture: Independent Media

Describing the initiative as a breakthrough in advancing radical economic transformation, Mchunu said the partnership would bring stability and certainty in the farming community.

The deal on Wednesday received mixed reaction from political parties, with the majority supporting it while the NFP called for “100% black ownership”.

Mchunu said the issue of land in KwaZulu-Natal was “highly emotive, deserving of heightened attention and a more radical approach to meet the desired outcomes”.

“(President Jacob Zuma) clearly indicated that this more direct intervention by the state on matters of land reform must not be perceived as a land grab, or for that matter condoning a land grab process."

“The state has had legal and regulatory processes at its disposal which it has not effectively utilised and that is what has to be rectified."

“The state will now get involved directly in vigorously resolving land issues,” Mchunu said.

He said the government would fast-track the issuing of title deeds to beneficiaries of the land.

“Expediting the issuing of certification of formal land tenure, such as title deeds provides landowners with collateral capital which is essential for entering the formal economy,” he said.

Provincial ANC Youth League chairperson Kwazi Mshengu, whose structure had been calling for the expropriation of land with or without compensation, said the 50/50 land ownership scheme was a step in the right direction.

“But, ultimately, the goal is to restore the land to its rightful owners so we believe that the 50/50 policy, as has been announced, is but one step (in) the right direction."

“Land is a catalyst for economic transformation, so without land reform we are bound to have the majority still being on the periphery of the economy,” said Mshengu.

DA MPL Francois Rodgers said the ANC had adopted a policy that was started by the DA government in the Western Cape.

“This is an excellent scheme that has worked very well in the Western Cape. The advantage is quite simply that there can be exchange of capacity."

“One of the biggest problems we have is that people get access to land, and they don’t know what to do with it,” he said.

However, National Freedom Party MPL Vikizitha Mlotshwa rejected the 50/50 land ownership policy, saying his party preferred that black people get 100% of the land.

“The whites must be there as trainers of black owners. There are also black farmers who are skilled enough to teach other black farmers,” said Mlotshwa.

KZN Agricultural Union chief executive Sandy La Marque said the union would welcome any action that would benefit the farmworkers and claimants.

“We welcome anything that may exist to promote rural stability,” she said.

The Mercury

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