Cape Town - If you want to build a house, first sit down and calculate what it will cost you.
And the government, too, is doing a rethink owing to the land-reform problems.
This follows a meeting between ministers involved in land reform acknowledging, at a meeting with agricultural leaders in the past week, that the current programme is experiencing serious problems.
Theo de Jager, deputy president of Agri SA, says ministers and officials of the departments of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, as well as Rural Development & Land Reform admitted, at Agri SA's board meeting last week, that drastic changes were needed.
Among other things, changes are needed in the financing of land reform because institutions that might have helped no longer exist or have ceased to operate.
Should the state have to bear all costs, this would set the Treasury back some R75bn to implement current land-reform plans at current market prices for land. At the current tempo the target of transferring 30% of the country's agricultural land to black farmers will be reached only in 25 years' time, and not by 2014.
The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, referred among other things to the dissolution of the Agricultural Credit Board and said this step had shot not only white farmers in the foot, but also emerging farmers in the head. For emerging farmers it is difficult to obtain the necessary credit whereas institutions like the credit board might have helped.
With reference to the Land Bank, Agri SA was told that the bank was being plunged into crisis by emerging farmers unable to pay back their loans. If the bank takes back the land from the beneficiaries it becomes accused of frustrating land reform. If the land is not repossessed the bank itself could become financially unstable.
De Jager says he gained the impression that debates are taking place behind the scenes to once again place the Land Bank under the wing of the Minister of Agriculture, after having been placed under the supervision of the Treasury last year because of the desperate position in which the bank had found itself.
He said the meeting was also told that officials who made poor choices in buying land would be called to account. It appears that only 40% of the money budgeted for land reform was paid for land, while the rest had been spent on improvements.
Joemat-Pettersson also indicated that the so-called PLAS (Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy) programme, in terms of which government buys land and then lets it to beneficiaries, will also be reviewed since in its current form it has unintended consequences.
Joemat-Pettersson added that accommodation of the entire land reform initiative under a single roof was being considered, with a one-stop service as an alternative to the current dispensation where various programmes are being run by different structures.
For more business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.