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Union: Land reform plan is blackmail

Oct 24 2012 17:17 Sapa

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Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma's land reform plan amounted to blackmail, trade union Solidarity said on Wednesday.

"The plan will benefit upcoming farmers at the expense of established farmers, who are already under pressure, and only if the new farmers are successful," spokesperson Eugene Brink said.

Brink, a political analyst at the Solidarity Research Institute, said the plan presupposed that farmers who co-operated would not be targeted for land reform again.

"It sketches a scenario that, if commercial farmers assist upcoming farmers to make their farms viable, they will be left alone in future, which amounts to blackmail," Brink said in a statement.

He was commenting on a "district-based" approach to land reform and financing which Zuma spoke about at a African Farmers' Association of SA dinner on Monday.

Each district should establish a district land reform committee, which would involve all concerned parties.

This committee would be responsible for identifying 20% of the commercial agricultural land in the district, and for giving commercial farmers the option of assisting in its transfer to black farmers.

Brink said the plan further entailed that neighbouring farmers would be expected to subsidise the expropriation of land.

"Farmers who hold on will be penalised and farmers who throw in the towel will be rewarded, which is a warped solution."

Zuma's plan would not resolve the existing problems regarding land reform, he said.

"Challenges like late or non-payment by the state, corruption, red tape and incompetent officials will not vanish if this plan is put into effect."

Land reform was a continuous process which had to be negotiated and factually debated by all stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

"President Zuma's plan sets unreasonable demands to the commercial sector, creates more questions than answers and presupposes a simple solution for a complex issue," Brink said.

On Wednesday, the presidency welcomed the debate surrounding the proposals, but said they were part of the national development plan released in August.

"The presidency welcomes the debate that has ensued over the proposals in the agriculture and land sectors, as it enriches the discussions on this important topic," it said in a statement.
solidarity  |  jacob zuma  |  land reform
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