29 June 2011
The South African government has used a one-day consultative meeting with the country’s commercial farmers to allay their fears regarding “land grabs”.
The consultative gathering between Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti and farmers’ organisations TAU SA, AgriSA and the Agricultural Business Chamber took place in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, AgriSA deputy president Theo de Jager said: “From the farming community, there [are] always … fears that there might be Zimbabwean-style land grabs by the civil society.
“We are glad that today we’ve come a long way to bridge the gap between commercial farmers and government on issues of insecurity, as we’ve been on the receiving end of most issues,” De Jager said.
“We are grateful, and [it is] refreshing that from now onwards, we will be working together with government and other stakeholders on all issues affecting us.”
TAU SA’s central Gauteng chairperson, Wannie Scribante, said: “It is true that some farmers are leaving the country because of the so-called land grab fears.
“However, as the farmer’s organisation, we don’t want to jeopardise everything in the industry, which is economically viable. We don’t want to see the farming industry going down the drain.”
Scribante said that, following the meeting, though there was still more to be done, they were looking forward to working with government and other stakeholders in finding reasonable solutions regarding land reform in the country.
It was Nkwinti who announced that together with the farmers’ unions, they would be drafting legislation on an Office Valuer-General, Land Management Commission and Land Rights Management Board to support land reform.
“We’ve all agreed to work together, but we will continue to engage each other,” Nkwinti said. “This is a tremendous achievement since we are now moving towards the same direction, and I want to reiterate that we will be representative with all the relevant stakeholders during these processes.”
Nkwinti said the creation of the Valuer-General was long overdue, adding that it was very important institution, given that the current system used by valuers was unknown.
The Land Management Commission, according to Nkwinti, would also help resolve the contradictions between surface rights and prospecting and/or mining rights.
He said there had to be a provincial Land Rights Management Board in each of the nine provinces for efficiency and better decision-making, adding that the boards would consult with local government before undertaking any development project within any municipal space.