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Land reform is imperative to take South Africa forward, both through restitution and to broaden the ownership of land to many citizens that did not previously have access to property rights and tenure security, Dr John Purchase, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) said in a statement released on Sunday.
He commented on the report released by the Presidential Land Reform and Agriculture Advisory Panel.
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The report indicated that the majority of panellists supported the principle of a Constitutional amendment on the clarification of “expropriation without compensation”. “Exactly how to effect sustainable and fair land reform by enacting just redress, social dignity and human settlement considerations, while improving the competitiveness of agriculture and ensuring food security, is a complex question that requires interrogation of the report and further debate,” said Purchase.
“In the end, we do need to agree on a path that resolves the land question as best possible, even though you will in all probability not be able to please all the people all the time.”
Agbiz said its mandated position that it does not support an amendment to the Constitution.
“For South Africa to grow and develop, property rights need to be protected and broadened, not undermined or even rendered worthless,” said Purchase.
“Agbiz believes the report does take the debate on sustainable land reform forward, while not initially agreeing with certain recommendations.”
In a statement released earlier on Sunday Agri SA said it is extremely concerned about several aspects of the report.
Agri SA is particularly concerned about what it calls “controversial recommendations”, which include amending the Constitution and land ceilings. Agri SA said it does not support any policy or legislation that infringes on property rights or any other fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution.
“If the recommendations contained in this report are implemented to the letter, food security for all South Africans will be compromised,” said Omri van Zyl, Agri SA executive director.
“Investor and business confidence are already low, and the last thing we need is further strain on the economy and the agricultural sector.”
Agri SA president Dan Kriek was a member of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform. According to Agri SA it, however, “became clear that there were fundamental differences in opinion and approach to land reform within the panel”.
READ: Land reform and private investment can go hand-in-hand
Kriek and a fellow panel member, Nick Serfontein, therefore, compiled an alternative report with a focus on private sector solutions.
According to Annelize Crosby, Agri SA Policy Head: Land, the agriculture body is of the view that land reform in farming areas will take a huge step forward with the establishment of an agricultural development agency where the private sector takes a leading role in driving and financing sustainable land reform.
In her view, time-consuming consultation processes that will likely follow the panel report could hamper the implementation of land reform.
“The focus should be on working together and implementing meaningful projects to the betterment of the sector,” commented Crosby. “However, should these consultation processes unfold, we will participate fully and make sure that the economic realities, which are not sufficiently addressed in the report, are put on the table.”
Agri SA is also concerned about the motion in Parliament on Thursday that, in its view, “indicates a clear intention by the ruling party to press ahead with the unnecessary and potentially damaging amendment of the property clause”.