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ANC to restrict land ownership

By Staff Writer
In a recent announcement following a three-day national executive committee meeting (lekgotla), Secretary General Gwede Mantashe announced that the African National Congress (ANC) has decided that there should be a limit on land ownership.
 
"Lekgotla has resolved that there should be a ceiling on land ownership of a maximum 12 000 hectares or two farms for both natural and all forms of legal persons… Land ownership by foreign nationals will also be prohibited," he said in a statement.
 
However, said he added that foreign nationals will be able to have leaseholds, giving them access to land, as the proposal will forbid foreigners from owning land in South Africa. In addition, the ANC is also wanting a compulsory declaration of land holdings, meaning that people will have to disclose information on all the land that they own.
 
Public opinion
 
This announcement has caused great concern among many in the country. President of the African Farmer's Association of South Africa (AFASA) Mike Mlengana is reported to have said that more information needs to be provided. He believes that such a limitation could not be applied universally as environmental factors need to be consider for different areas, meaning that the limitation would have to be adjusted to suit the area.
 
Dr Langelihle Simela, secretariat of the AFASA agrees. She said: "Our understanding is that the matter of land ceilings is a policy proposal that is still under discussion with role-players in the sector and the discussions have not yet been concluded. From AFASA we have said that there cannot be a blanket ceiling for all farmers because the land requirements vary with many factors such as agro-ecological regions, [and the] combination of commodities that the farmer is producing."
 
DA shadow minister for rural development and land reform, Thomas Walters said: "The proposal is a diversion tactic to take attention away from the comprehensive failure of government to deal with land reform since 1994. Approximately R70 billion (at national government level alone) was wasted since 1994 which could have resulted in a fundamentally changed land ownership setting."
 
Before this cap of land ownership can be passed it needs to be proposed in government in the form of legislation, which will be then be debated in parliament. Walters believes that such legislation would be bad for the country, as it foreign investment in land fuels growth and development within South Africa.
 
According to Walters, the proposal will hinder job creation, as well as investment in rural development. "[The proposal puts] a cap on the only successful land reform models, share equity schemes and joint ventures, [which rely] on continued expansion for its commercial success and to continuously include more beneficiaries," he adds.
 
"Critically, this proposal will also put the very land values our agricultural debt is based on under pressure, endangering the financing our farming cycle depends on. The proposal will be an act of sabotage at the expense of our future and is driven by a party desperate for populist quick fixes. The DA supports land reform, food security and jobs, and therefore rejects this proposal."
 
Simela adds: "We have suggested that the extent of land ownership by individuals should be looked at by the District Land Committees in a district. And that some guide would be useful for determining the land that is allocated to beneficiaries of land reform within a district and taking into account all pertinent factors."

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