Cape Town - For government to meet its redistribution targets, it should fast track its land redistribution programme, President Jacob Zuma said.
To achieve this the government will now do away with the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle in favour of the “just and equitable” principle for compensation, as set out in the constitution, Zuma said in his state of the nation address on Thursday.
Zuma said the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle forces the state to pay more for land than the actual value.
He said the land question is a highly emotive matter and therefore needs to be resolved amicably within the framework of the constitution and the law.
He said he had been urged to accelerate land reform.
It is encouraging that even the farmers called for the fast tracking of land reform and support to emerging farmers, he said.
"From 1994, we have been addressing the land reform problem through restitution, redistribution and tenure reform.
"As stated before, we will not be able to meet our redistribution targets."
Zuma said the government will use the lessons from the government’s mid-term review last year that revealed a number of shortcomings in the land reform implementation programme to improve implementation.
One of those lessons is that the time to finalise a claim should be expedited.
There were also proposed amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act "in order to provide for the re-opening of the lodgement of restitution claims, by people who missed the deadline of December 31, 1998".
Also being looked at were "exceptions to the June 1913 cut-off date, to accommodate claims by the descendants of the Khoi and San, as well as heritage sites and historical landmarks".
He said the government needs to provide better incentives for commercial farmers that are willing and capable of mentoring smallholder farmers.
Zuma said as part of the presidency stakeholder engagement programme ahead of his State of the Nation address, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe had held a meeting with both farmers and farm workers in Paarl on Tuesday.
Stakeholders agreed that there should be peace and stability in the agriculture sector and that the living and working conditions of farm workers should be improved urgently.
"We will continue the engagement with both farmers and farm workers."
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