The ANC’s intention to amend section 25 of the Constitution to limit ownership of agricultural land to 12 000 hectares is an irresponsible and regressive idea that demonstrates the party’s inability to properly understand the nature of modern agriculture in the 21st Century. This proposal is must be rejected in its entirety.
It is well recognized that modern commercial farming requires large scale tracts of land in order to stay productive and competitive – providing jobs and food for thousands of South Africans. This is dictated by economic needs, not by the individual whims of farmers. An act of arbitrary gerrymandering commercial farms would see many farms collapse – rending them no longer economically viable.
Moreover, the knock-on effects would deal a hammerblow to the banking sector, as many farms are subject to property loans with major banks. It is reported that if banks were not to be compensated for these loans, as much as R160bn could be wiped off their books.
As Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe should focus on the challenges in his current portfolio as the mining sector continues to haemorrhage thousands of jobs due to a weakening economy and policy uncertainty. Mr Mantashe should fix the job crisis in the mining sector rather than trying to create another jobs crisis in the agricultural sector.
Make no mistake, land reform is essential to redress the ills of our past. South Africa’s history of racial dispossession has left the country with skewed patterns of ownership that excludes most South Africans from land. And we maintain that the most appropriate way to address this is through the current constitutional provisions.Reckless pronouncements such as this one do nothing to achieve justice. Rather they encourage illegal land invasions which creates chaos in our nation.
The constitution is a sacred document and a blue print for building our shared future. It has not failed us, the ANC government has failed us. Amending the constitution will only enable ANC government corruption to continue giving land to the connected few at the expense of the many which will never achieve justice.
This ANC government is not capable of managing the real problems South Africa faces of building a modern, successful and competitive economy that creates jobs. Instead it has resorted to tried, tested and failed policies which belong in dictatorships of previous centuries.
*Maimane is Leader of the Democratic Alliance, South Africa