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SA farmers 'don't owe anyone anything'

Apr 09 2014 12:27

Johannesburg - South African farmers are unwilling to finance half of land reform farms because it is unjust and unfair, the Transvaal Agriculture Union (TAU) said on Wednesday.

"TAU SA's executive committee expressed its opposition to the proposals which will give substantial rights to farm workers on farms resulting in farmers losing in effect 50% of their farms," it said in a statement.

"Farmers do not owe anyone anything. Farmers did not steal land.

"If government wants to implement a land reform process, it should be financed by government. The farmers do not need to do this on government's behalf and are not willing to do so," it said.

On Sunday, Rapport newspaper reported that farm workers on commercial farms could own half of the farms according to a new proposal government was considering.

The proposal meant expropriating half of every commercial farm in South Africa and handing it over to farm workers, according to the report.

The newspaper was in possession of a document named "Final Policy Proposals for Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land", which was discussed with agricultural organisations last Monday.

The historic owners would retain half of their farms and the state would pay for the 50% taken for the workers, Rapport said.

Money paid

The money would not be paid to the farm owners but into a trust aimed at investing and developing the farm for all shareholders of the farm.

Farm workers would get shares in the farm based on the number of years of service and on the basis of their contribution in the development of the farm, according to the report.

The document was met with mixed reactions with the Congress of SA Trade Unions welcoming it while AgriSA said drafts of the policy proposals had already been opposed by them and other organisations in the sector.

AgriSA deputy president Theo de Jager said it was unworkable and probably unconstitutional.

"They could possibly lead to disinvestment in the sector and also threaten food security," he was quoted as saying.

Proposed policy

On Wednesday, TAU said the proposed policy was a form of nationalisation which was "the surest and shortest road to starvation of the masses".

AfriBusiness CEO Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg said in a statement there was a growing concern among business people regarding the proposed policy.

"Government should be aware that ownership rights and civil rights are fundamentally interlinked.

"This is why AfriBusiness believes that the deprivation or weakening of property rights will inevitably clear the way for other rights violations in the country."

Van Rensburg said farmers were not only land owners but business people as well, and should the policy be ratified, it would create a legal framework which would allow the state to redistribute the assets of any business among the workers of that business.

The Freedom Front Plus on Tuesday said the idea of giving farm workers half of the land they worked on was ill-considered.

Spokesperson Pieter Mulder said the proposal would not resolve the land reform problems in the country, but would instead destroy food security.

"The proposal of minister Gugile Nkwinti and the department of rural development and land reform that commercial farmers should give half of their farms to their workers is unworkable and ill-considered," Mulder said.

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pieter mulder  |  land reform  |  economy  |  agriculture

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