31 March 2008
The Department of Trade and Industry has approved the application for the AgriBEE (black economic empowerment) sector transformation charter, which is aimed at ensuring greater participation by black people in the country’s agricultural sector.
The framework aims to eliminate racial discrimination in the agricultural sector through implementing initiatives that encourage more black citizens to take part in agricultural activity and enterprises along the entire sector value chain.
The government believes the through the charter, it will be able to address the imbalances of the past with an integrated plan that is also aimed at generating equitable access to land and creating a profitable and sustainable agricultural sector for the previously disadvantaged.
Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana said in February this year that the land claims commission had settled more than 94% of the claims lodged on or before 31 December 1998.
She said that while the performance of the commission had enabled the government to restore at least two million hectares of land, the challenges associated with the settlement of the outstanding claims should not be underestimated, as they were complex.
These challenges included traditional leader conflict in terms of jurisdiction, boundaries and land ownership, claims still held at the Land Claims Court and family or community disputes, she said.
Xingwana added that her department had introduced a proactive land acquisition strategy, through which the department identifies, purchases and distributes land in accordance with the prevailing needs.
By February 2007, the government had made changes to the Expropriation Act, as well as set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that would acquire, hold, manage, develop and dispose of land for all reform purposes.
Xingwana said back then that the SPV would ensure that the expropriated land would be maintained in a viable condition until new farmers were able to occupy them.
She said then that while the government was still using the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, it was only one of the instruments available to them to affect land reform. She however also pointed out that even though the government could use expropriation to acquire land, all exchanges would be fully negotiated.
The charter is one method through which the government believes it can achieve its objective of ensuring that previously disadvantaged communities own at least 30% of the agricultural land in the country by the end of 2014.
SAinfo reporter and BuaNews