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

DURBAN - The Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform said on Saturday it needed 'space' to finalise and submit its report to the Presidency. 

Chairman of the panel, Dr. Vuyo Mahlati, said via an emailed statement the panel had yet to release a draft version of its work. 

He said the panel was “currently finalising its report for consideration by the Inter-Ministerial Committee and The Presidency as planned”.

“There is no final draft that has been submitted as a report yet. During the course of its work, the panel was divided into work streams, each with diverse papers and consultative processes. The report writing process includes the consolidation of the various inputs. Of importance in this consolidation is the discussion and capturing of areas of disagreement as stipulated in the panel’s Terms of Reference (TOR)”, said Mahlati.

The panel was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide independent advice to the Inter-Ministerial Committee comprised of 11 Cabinet Ministers and convened by Deputy President David Mabuza. 

It was expected to submit to the Inter-Ministerial Committee by March 31,2019. However, the panel successfully requested an extension due to various factors including "overwhelming interest" from organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.  

Mahlati also clarified that agricultural lobby group AgriSA was not a member of the panel. AgriSA's Nic Serfontein and its president Dan Kriek were members of the panel in their personal capacities. 

He did however raise concern that a report titled “AgriSA Minority Report” released by AgriSA on Friday contained information from “confidential Panel documents”. 

Kriek said in a statement on Friday that they released the alternative report which clearly stated which proposals and recommendations in the panel’s report were supported and which were rejected. 

Kriek said he and one other panel member refused to sign off on the panel advisory document because of various issues, such as those relating to expropriation of property without compensation. 

“We have released an alternative report setting out perspectives on land reform based on proven agricultural practice and sustainable economic growth,” Kriek said. 

However, Mahlati said Kriek’s claim that he refused to sign a document was “factually wrong and misleading” as there was “no document to sign, and thus no reason to refuse”.

African News Agency (ANA)