Tshwane - Some of the people clamouring for land to be expropriated and redistributed in South Africa have no idea on how to utilise it, while others have arable land they have failed to use, commercial farmer and Agri SA board member Sipiwo Makinana said on Wednesday.
The government's plans to amend the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation have been the subject of a heated national debate, with critics saying this will hurt agriculture.
"Now you find people making noise that we want land, we want land - but for what?" Makinana told a news conference in Pretoria.
"If you go through Eastern Cape where I come from, and also in KZN, you will see that people have small gardens ... but those small gardens are not worked. Let alone the arable land lying fallow there."
"They are just building on those arable lands instead of tilling. The grazing land, they are building their homes. Then you ask - what do these people want the land for? Is it for residential purposes, (or) for commercial agriculture?"
Makinana urged the government to assist people with land so that they could produce on a commercial scale, saying there had been no proper planning to enable subsistence and small-scale farmers to become full-scale commercial farmers.
“The current people on the land should be assisted without taking more people to the land, without a business plan. In short, there is no business plan as to why people are supposed to get the land," said Makinana, who is also national vice chairman of the National Wool Growers Association of South Africa.
On Tuesday, parliament by majority vote adopted a report recommending that Section 25 of the Constitution be amended to explicitly allow expropriation without compensation.
The report by the Constitutional Review Committee was supported by 209 legislators and opposed by 91, following robust debate in the House, where the ruling African National Congress enjoys a comfortable majority.
On Wednesday, Agri SA president Dan Kriek said his organisation would leave no stone unturned in its efforts to defend commercial farmers across South Africa facing the threat of losing their land.
"We will not allow the Constitution to be changed for political reasons, and secondly we will not allow that position to be construed as being non-progressive and anti-transformation," Kriek told the Pretoria media briefing.
"We will leave no stone unturned to protect the interest of the farmers and the agricultural sector that we represent."
Agri SA outlined its legal strategy to ensure that property rights of farmers are protected and that the much-punted land reform is done in a sustainable manner.
African News Agency/ANA