New land reform proposal is unconstitutional

Minister Gugile Nkwinti’s policy proposal entitled “Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land” is a radical departure from any common sense approach to land reform.

Win Kouga

It is effectively expropriation by stealth, and is unconstitutional. The DA will accordingly oppose this proposal.

Indeed, while the DA supports land reform that corrects the wrongs of the past, we cannot support arbitrary expropriation, which will threaten existing jobs, undermine job creation and food security.

As a starting point, this policy forces land owners to relinquish 50% of their property. Government will place funding, equivalent to the value of the forfeited property, into an “Investment and Development Fund” and all labourers shall “assume ownership of the remaining 50%, proportional to their contribution to the development of the land, based on the number of years they had worked on the land.”

This proposal will strip capital from rural businesses, and in doing so, will have a devastating effect on rural economies, jobs and food security. These already impoverished communities can simply not afford this.

Share equity schemes are indeed the most successful model of land reform in South Africa. This is in evidence in the Western Cape where 80% of such schemes remain successful agribusinesses – in sharp contrast with the land restitution programme at a national level, where only 10% are deemed successful according to Minister Nkwinti’s own statistics.

The difference is that equity share schemes in the Western Cape are voluntary and based on a partnership between the former farm owner and farm workers. More and more farmers and their workers are buying up farms on the market, using restitution funds to finance the workers share in an ongoing, risk-and-reward sharing enterprise.

This method works extremely well, without expropriation, maintains the productivity of the land, and turns farm workers into land owners and farmers.

The DA remains committed to the property rights enshrined in Section 25 of the Constitution of South Africa. Without entrenched property rights, we simply cannot grow our economy and create jobs.

Equally, we are committed to a land reform and restitution process that is fair, orderly and transparent. The failure of land reform in South Africa has nothing to do with the “willing buyer, willing seller” model and everything to do with the inability of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to implement a sustainable model of land reform.

The DA’s policy on Land Reform offers a credible and proven solution to the land reform issues that face South Africa. We shall oppose any proposal that arbitrarily removes property rights and threatens jobs and food security.

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