Land issue temperature rising.

Author:Nevin, Tom
Position:SOUTH AFRICA
 
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The South African government's aim to redistribute 30% of white owned farmland by 2014 is unlikely to be realised at the slow pace of the process to date. In addition, the new owners, often divorced from the land for hundreds of years, need help to be viable. The land issue, reports Tom Nevin, is coming to the boil.

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South Africa's department of land affairs has had to hurry back to the drawing board to redraft sections of its land resettlement policy after finding a significant degree of agricultural failure by resettled farmers. The minister of agriculture and land affairs, Lulu Xingwana, has noted that after some years of redistribution, the need has arisen for more help to farmers in the redistributed areas. And, says Thozi Gwanya, acting land affairs director-general, the failure rate in achieving sustainable agricultural development in rural communities benefiting from land reform could be as high as 50%.

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The need to implement a support strategy for resettled farmers is all the more urgent viewed against the government's determination to see at least 30% of mostly white-owned farmland in the hands of previously disadvantaged South Africans by 2014.

Even though just 4.7% of the targeted land has been handed over since the redistribution scheme was launched in 1994, mostly on a willing-seller, willing-buyer basis, Xingwana still believes the 30% (about 25m hectares) target is achievable in the next six years with a number of other strategies introduced.

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"Expropriation, or compulsory acquisition of land where negotiations over sales have failed is likely to be stepped up, in line with existing and amended provisions in the Constitution, and greater financial resources would be made available," notes BUA, the government information service.

So far, about 3m hectares have been transferred and another 2.5m hectares will follow this year and next year. A further 3.5m hectares will be transferred each year from 2010 to 2014. Are these realistic targets in view of the fact that not even 5% of the total was transferred in more than 10 years? Xingwana thinks it can be done, especially in the light of new strategies. "We are revisiting the willing-buyer, willing-seller policy," she says. "In many cases it has not worked. Expropriations will occur, but only after the required processes have been exhausted."

Boost for farm product output

The result of the rethink is the Implementation Support...

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