To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

January 17, 2011

President's remark on land ownership worries South African farmers

by Hopewell Radebe

South Africa's organised agriculture has warned that the African National Congress (ANC) was tinkering with property rights at SA’s peril, and challenged the government to speed up land reform and allow the private sector to play a more prominent role.

The comments were made after President Jacob Zuma appeared to revive the state’s controversial plan to limit foreign ownership of land, an initiative that stalled after a government probe in 2006 found that only about 5% of land in SA was foreign owned.

The plan was shelved after an uproar from analysts and local real estate agents who warned that it would send the wrong signal to investors.

However, at the ANC’s 99th anniversary celebrations recently, Mr Zuma again raised the possibility of restricting foreign ownership. Analysts said yesterday his remarks were likely to be well received by voters.

Aubrey Matshiqi, a senior research associate at the Centre for Policy Studies, said foreign land ownership was a soft target and likely to resonate with locals.

Mr Zuma was careful to offer a compromise to appease foreign investors by not advocating a ban on foreign ownership.

"They are not stopping foreigners but offer what is an internationally acceptable norm in the form of leasehold for a particular period, at the same time serving the interests of the party’s constituency by being seen to be reserving land for locals," Mr Matshiqi said.

Prof Dirk Kotzé, lecturer in political sciences at the University of SA, said foreign land ownership was not a priority for ANC voters, who were migrating to urban areas faster than citizens of most African cities and towns.

Farmers lobby group AgriSA said it supported orderly and meaningful land reform, and called for it to be expedited. "With a view to investor confidence in agriculture, urgent progress should be made with land restitution … the matter should be finalised, preferably within the next two years," AgriSA president Johannes Möller said.

"Give the private sector the necessary space and financial support to demonstrate what can be done. I am personally aware of farmers who through shareholding schemes, for example, can effectively assist the government with land reform," Mr Möller said.

The Freedom Front Plus described the state’s plan to obtain land on behalf of farmworkers with "far-reaching expropriation powers" as "a dangerous and irresponsible intention". The government appeared committed to changing property rights because of political considerations but did not realise what the consequences could be, the party’s land affairs spokesman Werner Weber said.

Business Day

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP