Johannesburg - Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson
on Thursday advocated the expropriation of white farmers, arguing that the
ANC's land reform had failed 18 years on from the end of apartheid.
The ANC wants to use its right to seize land, with
compensation, ending a policy of only buying land from willing sellers it
argues has been costly and too slow at correcting one of apartheid's worst
"The content for us on land reform is absolutely clear:
the willing buyer-willing seller principle of land reform must go,"
Joemat-Pettersson told SAFM radio.
The sensitive land issue is one of the key topics at the
ANC's policy conference, which will put forward positions to a national
"The dramatic watershed decision will be that
expropriation within the constitution must happen, we cannot continue with
willing-buyer willing-seller," said Joemat-Pettersson on the sidelines on
the third day of the meeting.
Unlike neighbouring Zimbabwe where farm seizures sent the
economy into a tailspin, South Africa has so far ruled out land grabs and stuck
to buying up farms but criticised pricing which it says favours the seller.
The constitution, introduced after the fall of white
minority rule, gives the state the right to expropriate if a compensation is
"There's no need for us to change the
constitution," said Joemat-Pettersson.
The ANC's land reform discussion document lists
expropriation in line with the constitution as an option, and also proposes a
land valuer that would look at compensation.
Joemat-Pettersson said the same call was made five years ago
at the party's national conference.
Land is a highly emotive subject in a country where
ownership remains skewed in starkly visible patterns inherited from apartheid,
when the majority black population was denied land in former whites-only areas.
The government has admitted that its lagging post-apartheid
land reforms have also largely failed, with only 10% of farm handovers
productive, forcing a bailout programme for collapsing farms handed to black
recipients that teams them with mentors or corporate partners.
Lack of support to new farmers is highlighted by the ANC in
its discussion document on land as one of the key problems behind the