Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma proposed a new land reform plan in Pretoria on Monday evening.
“This is an innovative proposal that needs to be tested,” he told the first annual general meeting of the African Farmers' Association of South Africa (Afasa).
The plan proposed a district-based approach to land reform and its financing.
“It proposes that each district should establish a district land reform committee where all stakeholders are involved,” Zuma said.
“This committee will be responsible for identifying 20 percent of the commercial agricultural land in the district and giving commercial farmers the option of assisting its transfer to black farmers.”
Implementation of this land reform proposal would include five steps.
Firstly, it would entail identifying land readily available from land already in the market; land where the farmer was under severe financial pressure; land held by an absentee landlord willing to exit; and land in a deceased estate.
“In this way, land can be found without distorting markets.”
Secondly, the state would buy the land at 50 percent of its market value. This, Zuma said, would be closer to its fair productive value.
The current owner's shortfall would be made up by cash or in-kind contributions from the commercial farmers in the district who volunteered to participate.
Thirdly, in exchange, commercial farmers would be protected from losing their land and gain black economic empowerment status.
“This should remove the uncertainty and mistrust that surrounds land reform and the related loss of investor confidence.
Fourthly, a stepped-up programme of financing should also be created, Zuma said. This would involve the Treasury, the Land Bank, and established white farmers.
“The model envisages that the cost of land reform be spread between all stakeholders.
“It also envisages new financial instruments being designed for the purpose of facilitating land reform.” These could include 40-year mortgages at preferential rates for new entrants into the markets, as well as land bonds that white farmers and others could invest in.
The fifth step was increasing investment in agricultural research and development.
“We also need to use the investment more strategically.”
Zuma said the government looked forward to ongoing engagement with Afasa.
“So that we can develop and harness our vision for agriculture and food security together.” - Sapa