Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Agriculture organisations yesterday poured cold water on the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform’s report which was made public on Sunday, and made sweeping recommendations on how to achieve land reform in South Africa. 

TLU SA led the charge against the recommendations contained in the report, particularly the one on amending the Constitution and land ceilings. Louis Meintjes, president of TLU SA, said the members of the panel worked towards a specific outcome to support personal relationships and opinion. “We are calling on any law practitioners concerned about the future of South Africa to contact TLU SA. 

“We have already made provision in the form of a trust fund to support farmers whose land is expropriated without their consent and below market-related prices,” Meintjes said. “South Africa does not have the ability or capacity to implement the suggestions made by the land panel. “But the expectation was created, and now the recommendations have to be enforced to satisfy the masses even though it will harm all South Africans and not just farmers and their workers,” Meintjes said. 

The report said wide-ranging institutional reforms were needed to fast-track land reform and that the government needed a minimum of R240 billion to acquire and transfer about 30 percent of available land. The panel also endorsed expropriation without compensation, especially abandoned land; land held purely for speculative purposes and land held by state entities that wasn’t being utilised, among other qualifications. 

Omri van Zyl, Agri SA executive director, said the organisation was concerned about several aspects of the report. “If the recommendations contained in this report are implemented to the letter, food security for all South Africans will be compromised,” said Van Zyl. “Investor and business confidence are already low, and the last thing we need is further strain on the economy and the agricultural sector.” The country’s official opposition, the DA, rejected the panel’s report and said that the expropriation without compensation recommendations would “further batter our ailing economy”. 

Last year, the National Assembly adopted a motion to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation. John Purchase, chief executive of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), said it would study the report and its recommendations in detail and respond according to its mandated policy positions on land reform. “Clearly robust discussion characterised the deliberations of the panel and Agbiz believes the report does take the debate on sustainable land reform forward, while not initially agreeing with certain recommendations,” Purchase said. 

“Agbiz again reiterates its mandated position that it does not support an amendment to the Constitution in terms of Section 25. For South Africa to grow and develop, property rights need to be protected and broadened, not undermined or even rendered worthless.”

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