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Black farmers’ body supports ANC land-expropriation policy

BUSINESS LIVE / 09 MARCH 2018 - 05:50 / NEELS BLOM

The African Farmers Association of SA (Afasa) supports the ANC’s policy position on the expropriation of land without compensation, although it takes a strong position on the inalienability of freehold title, says Afasa president Vuyo Mahlati.

The association represents the interests of African farmers in SA. It was started in 2011 with 3,000 founding members. Mahlati said on Thursday that considering the "spectacular failure" of land reform in SA, this policy had become necessary to transform agriculture. However, the policy had to be executed without affecting others’ rights. "The right farms have to go to the right beneficiaries," Mahlati said.

Farmers work on a field outside Lichtenburg. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

"It is necessary to right previous wrongs but it must be done in such a way that SA’s food security is not threatened and more agricultural producers are created," she said.

Mahlati said Afasa unconditionally supported the expropriation of land without compensation in cases of historical dispossession.

Afasa’s position follows consultations earlier on Thursday with the state-owned Land Bank, the Agricultural Research Council and black commercial farmers and academics. The association recognised the constitutional constraints caused by section 25 of the Bill of Rights in bringing about the redress in land ownership.

But to start redress, the existing failures in land reform should be tackled — among them the post-settlement support for land-reform beneficiaries. "There is no reason to wait for a constitutional change before tackling the problems. Farmers should not have to wait that long," Mahlati said.

A major constraint in transforming agriculture was the absence of freehold title deeds among land-reform beneficiaries, said Mahlati. "Without title [deeds] you cannot raise capital from the banks, and without capital you cannot farm."

She said one major commercial bank (she did not name) processed only two loans for African farmers in the high-yielding agricultural sector in Mpumalanga over the past year. "It has become so bad that farmers no longer bother to apply for finance."

Afasa’s position on freehold title deeds contradicts government policy, which since 2011, has limited freehold title to medium-and large-scale commercial African farmers, and then only grants them after leasing the land for 30-50 years. Smallholder and subsistence farmers are expected to lease land from the state.

Land expert Prof Lungi Ntsebeza said that land targeted for expropriation should focus on unused and underused land. He said certain game farms would qualify and denied that limitations on land use contradicted the terms of freehold title.

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LINK : https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2018-03-09-black-farmers-body-supports-anc-land-expropriation-policy/

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