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Land policy hostility 'surprising'

22 April 2014 - 09:48 By SIPHO MASOMBUKA
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Resistance to the government's Final Policy Proposals for Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land is surprising, said Department of Rural Development and Land Reform spokesman Mthobeli Mxotwa.

Its forerunner, the farming equity scheme, was popular, he said.

"I am surprised that, when a similar proposal is made by the government there is all this concern, hostility and resistance."

He said the only difference between the two was that the latest proposal is an attempt to make sharing of land mandatory.

Under the new draft policy, now open for public comment, shares in the portion of the land to be given to workers would be distributed according to the number of years worked on the farm - starting at 10 years of unbroken service.

Mxotwa said disputes would be settled by the Land Rights Management Board, which would be established once the policy was adopted.

Mxotwa said 87% of land was in the hands of commercial farmers, and that the policy is part of the government's efforts to redistribute land.

"Emerging farmers would be assisted for five years with technical and material support. A commercial farmer, or a mentor, would be allocated to them until they are able to stand on their own," he said.

Mxotwa said a fund would benefit both the original owner's portion and that of farmworkers to ensure productivity for food security.