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Give land to able people, farmers urge

Oct 22 2014 05:00
Sapa

Pretoria - The government must ensure land is allocated to individuals who have the capacity to use it, the African Farmers' Association of SA (Afasa) said on Tuesday.

"We are saying to the minister (of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti), we need to have criteria for the farmers' selection," Afasa president Mzamo Mlengana said in Pretoria at the end of the association's summit.

"When you select a farmer who is not a farmer, it works to the negative of what we are doing. It opens us and government to criticism. Once again, perception will be 'look at the black farmers who have been given land, it's not working'."

He said a well thought-out land redistribution process would not threaten national food security and should benefit the country.

"We need to produce enough food in this country. We need to create jobs in the agriculture sector. As a result, we have to alleviate poverty," Mlengana said.

"For us to get there, we have to train our farmers. We also have to talk about the success stories in this sector."

Reallocation would solve the problems created by apartheid.

"It is more than critical to redistribute land. Look at where black people are living. In the townships they live on very small places and nearby you find a farmer with more than 5 000 hectares of land.

"Apartheid violated our rights to own land. The markets were violated in pursuit of political ambitions. It is the worst scenario."

He said the Afasa summit rejected the government's proposal which would see farmworkers getting 50% of the land they were employed on.

At the summit, Agri-Sector Unity Forum president Japie Grobler said government had to ensure national priorities including food security and economic stability were not jeopardised when land was redistributed.

"Land will be redistributed in this country. We all accept that. It is just a matter of how. It should be done in such a way that it would be affordable. It should be done in such a way that most of the people in this country buy into it," said Grobler.

"We should be exporting food to earn foreign currency. We should have peace and quiet in the country."

Planning and management were critical for the reallocation programme.

"We have to plan accordingly. We also have to implement correctly. We might see people just grabbing land," said Grobler.

Last week, Nkwinti said the law would not allow South Africa to undertake a land redistribution process similar to Zimbabwe's.

He said farmers had expressed their opposition to the 50% share proposal.

"They say 'no, it's wrong'. They send me smses. They put it as bluntly as that," he told reporters in Pretoria.

"They say it's unconstitutional, and they are right. That is the beauty of our country. Our country is a constitutional democracy."

During the past five years there had been indications that the land restitution process had not achieved its goals.

gugile nkwinti  |  land  |  farmers
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