South African President Cyril Ramaphos. PHOTO: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ ANA

Pretoria - President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed an advisory panel on land reform that will support the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on land reform chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, the presidency said.

The panel would advise the IMC on a broad range of policy matters associated with land reform, including restitution, redistribution, tenure security, and agricultural support, Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement.

The panel comprised of 10 members who were eminently qualified by virtue of academic background, professional experience, social entrepreneurship, or activism related to the agricultural economy and land policy.

"The panel embodies a diversity of experience and perspectives that will enrich the IMC’s deliberations on land reform as an enabler for a united, cohesive society and an inclusive, efficient, and globally competitive economy," Diko said.

The panel would be chaired by social entrepreneur and public policy and development planning specialist Dr Vuyokazi (Vuyo) Mahlati, who was serving her second term as a member of the National Planning Commission. Mahlati, who served in various public capacities, was president of the African Farmers' Association of South Africa.

The panel was expected to provide perspectives on land policy in the context of persisting land inequality, unsatisfactory land and agrarian reform, and uneven urban land development.

The panel was mandated to review, research, and suggest models for government to implement a fair and equitable land reform process that redressed the injustices of the past, increased agricultural output, promoted economic growth, and protected food security.

During a brief introductory meeting with the panel in Pretoria on Tuesday, September 18, Ramaphosa and Mabuza invited the panel to provide the IMC with critical and independent inputs that would facilitate sound policy-making and effective implementation, Diko said.

 Panellists are:

 - Professor Ruth Hall, a researcher and professor at the University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies. Her research work in South Africa and the continent spans over 23 years and has played an integral role in shaping discourse on South African land reform beginning with the constitutional negotiations. Her key research interests and focus have been on land redistribution, restitution claims and farm workers.

- Professor Mohammed Karaan, professor in agricultural economics at Stellenbosch University. He has extensive experience in agricultural sciences and agricultural economics working in both the academic and corporate environments. Karaan has worked at the Development Bank of Southern Africa as an economist and thereafter joined the Rural Foundation as the head of research.

- Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, a lawyer, public speaker, and author, whose current work for the Legal Resources Centre and Johannesburg Bar spans public law, labour law, and competition – areas of practice in which he has distinguished himself over a period of 17 years.

- Bulelwa Mabasa, an admitted attorney with more than 16 years’ experience. Close to 12 years of Mabasa's practising time has been dominated by matters on land restitution, land reform, tenders, procurement, mining litigation, national heritage law, customary law, administrative and constitutional law, as well as commercial litigation acting on behalf of land-owners, claimants, mines, communities, funders, and investors.

- Dr Thandi Ngcobo, CEO and founder of the Dr JL Dube Institute at the University of KwaZulu-Natal who has conducted extensive research on land and education and capacity development. Through her work at UKZN, Ngcobo has established a number of “in-house” structures focused on facilitating discourse and engagements on issues of land.

- Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo is the head of research at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa and is an independent agricultural economic advisor to Afgrain Food Group. He is a columnist and blog author on authoritative platforms and serves on a number of bodies including the South African Reserve Bank Economic Roundtable and the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa.

- Daniel Kriek is a Free State farmer and president of AgriSA who believes in progressive strategies and visions to achieve unity in agriculture. With animal science as his major during his University of the Free State studies, Kriek obtained a B.Sc Agric.; B.Sc. Agric. Hons, and M.Sc. Agric. He has held several key positions in organisations in the agricultural sector.

- Thato Moagi is a young, emerging farmer and entrepreneur with six years’ experience in management and organisational administration. While her principal education and experience is agriculture-based, Moagi has achieved notable experience in administration and management. Her multifaceted experience includes marketing, advertising, branding and sales of fresh produce and livestock, managing market agents, facilitating export accounts, and managing logistics agencies.

- Nick Serfontein is chairman of the Sernick Group, which employs 550 people, and he holds a B.Sc. Engineering from the University of Pretoria. He was the 2016 Free State Farmer of the Year and Mentor of the Year. Serfontein devotes his time to programmes aimed at developing farms and upscaling emerging farmers. Serfontein argues that agriculture needs to be revitalised to serve and contribute towards nation-building.

During the briefing, Ramaphosa thanked all the members for agreeing to serve on the panel. “Although the members of the panel are drawn from very different backgrounds, with different areas of expertise and perspectives, they are united by a shared vision of a just and equitable future for all South Africans,” he said.

African News Agency (ANA)