900 unused state farms confirm expropriation without compensation will fail

AfriForum is of the opinion that the government’s admission that almost 900 farms – which belong to the state and extend over some 700 000 hectares – are underused or not used at all is once again confirmation that government’s more radical land reform in the form of expropriation without compensation is heading for disaster.

This admission was made on 1 October by Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. Despite the miserable failure in terms of food security, these farms will not be privatised, but will be made available to the public in the form of 30-year leaseholds.

According to Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, the government’s actions with regard to land reform clearly indicate that its aim is not to transfer the land to private ownership. Neither is it to ensure food and economic security. Government’s aim is to make the state the owner of the land, who will then decide on how the land is being managed – ostensibly to the benefit of society.

This was indeed confirmed when government admitted earlier that more than 90% of land reform projects had failed, but that it would not prevent it from continuing with state-driven land reform. It was reconfirmed when it became known that only 6% of agricultural land procured by the state had been transferred to private ownership. It was now once again confirmed by government’s announcement on the 900 farms and how these would be treated.

“It is as if government believes that a failed government policy will work if the policy is enforced more aggressively – moreover, with the blind believe that it will not lead to an even more aggressive failure,” Roets says.

Roets also says that AfriForum believes that injustices regarding land should be corrected by transferring ownership to those who have been deprived of the land, rather than to the state. This should be achieved through compensation and differs from blind redistribution programmes that are based on race. “The state is pursuing race targets – uncontrollably and with no regard for the destructive impact that it will have on society as a whole.”

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