Deputy President David Mabuza says land reform processes that South Africa is undertaking poses no threat to the agriculture sector and the South African economy.
“The land reform processes that we are undertaking pose no direct threat to the agriculture sector and the economy as a whole,” said the Deputy President on Thursday.
Speaking at the Landbou Weekblad and Agri-SA Land and Agricultural Summit that got underway in Bela Bela, the Deputy President urged farmers to continue to work hard, invest in their farms and increase production.
He urged them to extend a hand of collaboration with government to ensure that more and more South Africans enter the sector. Government, he said, will do its best to safeguard the estimated R460 billion worth of investment in agricultural assets.
The two-day conference got underway after the National Assembly in February this year adopted a motion to amend the Constitution so as to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. The matter was subsequently referred to the Joint Constitutional Review Committee.
The Summit, said Deputy President Mabuza, comes at a time of significant economic challenges which include sluggish economic growth and job losses.
He said discussions on land reform measures that seek to address inequalities of the past flow from land dispossession and economic exclusion.
Agri-SA President Dan Kriek said given South Africa’s history, one has to acknowledge the effects of colonialism on the country. He said the economic dilemma facing the country is that there has been increased levels of uncertainty, adding that it’s not good news for investors.
“We need to instil confidence in the South African economy and the solution is that we need to restore the dignity of our people,” said Kriek.
Adding to Kriek’s comments, Deputy President Mabuza said the issue of land has always been a sensitive matter and is at the heart of ordinary people’s daily struggles for economic participation and social empowerment.
“Access to land for productive use in agriculture, industrial development and human settlements remains a defining feature for the aspirations of those with no access to land. There are many voices crying for access to land to improve the living conditions and open up opportunities for sustainable livelihoods,” he said.
He said access to land improves prospects for the ability to improve the quality of lives of many South Africans in urban and far-flung rural areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.
He also stressed the importance of making land accessible to people who want to ‘work the land’ and put it to productive use so that the productive capacity of the country is maximized.
In the same vein, government strongly spoke out against land grabs, saying that government will protect land while supporting farmers.
He discouraged those who use the sensitive and emotive issue of land as a means of dividing South Africans.
“Everything we do will be done within the confines of our constitutional framework. We are resolute in protecting the sector to prevent any contraction and threat to food security.”
Support for the sector
Deputy President Mabuza said government will work closely with the agriculture sector in developing and implementing a package of post-settlement support measures to enhance productivity of restituted land as well as communal land under the custodianship of traditional leaders.
The Deputy President acknowledged that progress on land reform has not happened at the desired speed.
“Similarly, there is an acknowledgement that where land restitution has been effected, not all of that land has been put to productive use,” he told the Summit.
Government committed to land restitution
The South African Government has stated that it is committed to a fair and sustainable land restitution and redistribution process.
However, government will not tolerate disorder and lawlessness, and will act against those who break the law.
The South African government has repeatedly stated that nobody has any right to invade land or to violate other people’s rights and that it will at all times uphold the law and ensure that the rights of all South Africans are protected.
It has further stated that it will not tolerate any acts of violence and intimidation that seek to undermine it's efforts to ensure the stability of the country.