Black farmers call for land ombud, to heal ‘festering wound’- South Africa

Black farmers have called for the establishment of a land and agrarian ombud, who will investigate land reform malpractices and ensure adherence to land redistribution policies.

The farmers, under the African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa), also asked for land expropriation to target underutilised and unused commercial land, including that owned by corporates, state-owned enterprises and mining companies.

Quoting the 2017 land audit, Afasa’s Pitso Sekhoto told the recent Black Business Council summit that the land ownership patterns were still skewed in favour of whites and corporate entities – they owned 82% of the land, while 17% belonged to the state.

The audit’s breakdown by race showed that whites owned 72% of land, while blacks had only 23%.

The government had, in 1994, promised to distribute 30% of the land, but it had taken 24 years to transfer just 5% to 10% at a cost of approximately R55 billion.

“For us, the land reform in its current format has been a gross travesty of justice. It cannot be that 30,000 white farmers and a handful of agricultural conglomerates continue to own more than 80% of land in South Africa. Afasa is unapologetically opposed to this status quo,” Sekhoto said.

According to Sekhoto, government must apply land ceilings when determining land redistribution in agreements.

Land already acquired by the state must be redistributed with title deeds or 99-year leaseholds. People who must benefit include black subsistence and commercial farmers, qualifying farm labours and labour tenants and landowners who intended to farm.

It also advocated for those with an interest in farming, including smallholding owners, those who studied agriculture, agriculture entrepreneurs, people with agricultural skills, women and youth with potential and interest in agriculture.

Afasa urged parliament to expedite the proposed amendment to section 25 of the constitution.

“Immediate attention must be focused on finalising the Land Expropriation Bill and introduce land redistribution legislation.

“Land is a fundamental right and the piecemeal approach of the years gone by is unsustainable and must be abandoned.

“The festering wound of the land ownership in South Africa must be settled in a fair, just and equitable manner,” Sekhoto said.




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