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Tue Sep 02 16:04:36 SAST 2014

Minister unveils plan to make farmers give half their land to workers

Jan-Jan Joubert | 22 June, 2014 11:42
Farm. File photo.
Image by: PAULO WHITAKER / REUTERS

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has published policy proposals requiring commercial farmers to hand over half their farms to farmworkers.

Nkwinti said in an interview this week that stakeholders in commercial agriculture, including farmers, trade unions, farmworkers and the agricultural business sector, have until April next year to react to his proposals, which aim to:

  • Deracialise South Africa's rural economy;
  • Democratise the allocation and use of land; and
  • Ensure food security as well as food sovereignty for the country.

To this end, Nkwinti proposes that:

  • The commercial farmers, as historical owners, retain 50% of the farm;
  • The labourers on the land 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;
  • The government pays for the 50% to be shared by the labourers, but the money will not go to the farmer. It will go to an investment and development fund to be jointly owned by the parties constituting the new ownership regime. The investment and development fund will be used for reinvestment in the farm, skills improvement and to pay out those who want to opt out of the arrangement;
  • Current tenancy protection remains and it will be balanced by a regime of duties and responsibilities that worker-dwellers must comply with if they want to stay on the farm;
  • Of the 50% to be shared by labourers, all labourers with a history of between 10 and 25 consecutive years of disciplined service will share 10%, those with 25 to 50 years' consecutive service will share 25%, those with more than 50 years' consecutive service will share 50% and 15% will be available for household subsistence farming; and
  • Land rights management committees, consisting of local people, will be established to solve local disputes.

Nkwinti said he had come up with the proposal because the previous system had many deficiencies, land reform was imperative and too few proactive proposals were coming from stakeholders in agriculture.

"I formulated these proposals to give them something to work with," said Nkwinti.

"Stakeholders have until April next year to react. But we really need to move forward."

The minister said he was excited about retaining the portfolio he has held since 2009. He has set himself the targets of growing the department's youth programme and handling land claims preceding 1913 by descendants of the San and the Khoi as his main goals for the new term.

Regarding his land reform plan, which has provoked some very negative reactions from organised agriculture, he said it was an effort to establish co-responsibility and co-ownership, which requires sacrifices from workers and farmers.

"To the workers, it is a wake-up call because it means greater responsibility and discipline.

"It is also reflective of the ANC policy decision, through the Freedom Charter, to turn away from radical African nationalism and to embrace the concept that South Africa belongs to all who live in it - black and white - and that the land shall be shared among those who work it.

"To the farmers, it provides an opportunity to farm in cooperation with their workers."

Nkwinti said he did not feel pressured by Economic Freedom Fighters MPs' insistence in parliament this week that land they regarded as stolen ought to be returned to the descendants of the original owners.

"Given how long ago the ANC moved away from such thinking, the only radical thing about them is their radical conservatism," he said.

AgriSA deputy president Theo de Jager said organised agriculture would turn its back on Nkwinti's proposals.

"We are aware of the importance of land reform. We support it and we work with government. The minister's plan could lead to massive job losses as farmers ensure there are fewer workers on the soon-to-be-divided farms.

"AgriSA favours market-related compensation to the farmer. One needs to remember that farming is a long-term investment. Farmers borrow money with land as collateral. At this stage, agricultural land is worth R155-billion nationally and agriculture debt stands at R89-billion. To effectively lose 50% of their collateral will be a disaster to farmers."

Free State Agriculture president Dan Kriek said any proposal needed to be constitutional and financially viable. He believes Nkwinti's proposal fails on both counts.

DA land reform spokesman Thomas Walters described the proposed policy as a cynical ploy to redeem the ANC's reputation as a government serious about land reform.

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Tue Sep 02 16:04:36 SAST 2014 ::
I do not disagree with the concept of shareholders but this is forced sharing. Obviously has roots in the communist system of government. It may work with black farmers but this probably will only apply to white framers. The white farmers fled their origins 300 to 400 years ago to avoid such systems. My guess is the few white farmers left will just sell up at whatever costs and move elsewhere in Africa where they are in big demand. I am guessing though. I may be wrong.
This will be the end of agricultural production in South Africa ! This system never worked anywhere in the world ! Only a very ignorant person could think of something like this !

Everywoman

Jan 27, 2014
Avatar
Hmmnnn, let's see ... I worked in financial services for many years, so maybe it's time I demanded a shareholding in one of the Big Four banks for all those years of service. Oh no, hang on, I'm white - can't do that ... More to the point, government clearly hasn't taken indebtedness in the agricultural sector into account. There's a seriously misplaced belief in the ANC and the EFF that farmers own their land and equipment outright but, like ordinary householders, they too have bonds and loans - usually big ones. Who'll compensate the banks for these when the land is divided up - or will worker shareholders agree to take on a portion of indebtedness in addition to their portion of ownership? And what about the added value that farmers have brought to agricultural enterprise, often over several generations? Added value is the basis of our entire VAT system, yet it never seems to come into the equation when discussing farm land. I believe there's a place for shared ownership schemes in agriculture - and there are already quite a few in the country that are working very successfully - but I feel that asking farmers to essentially give away half of their farms is never going to work. I agree with Coolman - this scheme will probably lead to more farmers than ever pulling out of the agricultural sector and taking their skills and expertise with them to countries where it's going to be rewarded. Global market economy and all that ...
Nkwinti appears to be a politician who gained this position without the correct mentality, if this is a democratic country. His vision seems one of a vengeful person who wishes to see the demise of a certain race group. If he wants to go back to the years 1913, then he should ask who made progress here on the African continent? How and where did he attain the little knowledge that he believes he has abundance thereof had it not been for White influence? Compare most African states with that of South Africa before the ANC came to power and compare it to today in comparison. His plans will lead to corrupt foreigners coming to beautiful country and exploiting it for personal gain, much of what is currently happening around us today. The ANC should be focussed on "The New South Africa" where we begin anew and discount all previous prejudices and concentrate what is beneficial to everyone. Many blacks hate the whites and are currently exerting too much energy on revenge, and by going along this route of revenge will only result in disaster. Do not neglect your God and what He expects of you.
"To the farmers, it provides an opportunity to farm in cooperation with their workers." -are you insane?! Why on earth would someone who has had their farm for generations or even just recently purchased it for an obscene price be willing to give away half?! More to the point, who will force the workers to do more work than just their allotted piece of land? Will they still be willing to be instructed in their duties once they feel they are part-owners??? I can already envisage farmers starting to let go as many employees as they possibly can to prevent too many people having a say on his property and business, plus what is stopping the farmer from not buying seed for next years harvest, putting all his machinery and belongings up for auction and simply leaving with what he worked for and owns?! Leaving the land to some uneducated farm labourers, that worked brilliantly in Zimbabwe if memory serves correctly! It has become far too easy for these politicians to simply stand on their pedestals and spout anti-White nonsense to garner votes instead of actually putting in any effort whatsoever to earn said vote - History will remember exactly who made this country the most progressive on the continent and who ruined it completely for generations to come.