Zuma eyes changes to land reform

President Jacob Zuma on Monday declared unequivocally that his government is planning to make “significant changes” to the willing-buyer, willing-seller method of land redistribution.

Speaking in Limpopo, he said at the official launch of his government’s comprehensive rural development policy: “We have recognised that in order to move forward decisively with the land-redistribution programme, significant changes will have to be made.”

He said that in order to move ahead with land reform, the government will have to “investigate less costly alternative ways of land acquisition, by engaging with all stakeholders within the sector”.

He added: “The general view is that the willing-buyer, willing seller-model does not work.
We will be seeking a much more pragmatic formula to land redistribution.

“It will be a formula that should address the issue as part of our country’s ongoing effort at national reconciliation.”

And he warned: “It should not be seen as a super-profit-making business venture.”

The president told his audience that a critical part of the rural development strategy, which was approved by the Cabinet last week, is to stimulate agricultural production with a view to contributing to food security, and he promised that the government will support the provision of agricultural implements and inputs to boost emerging farmers and households nationally.

“We must also make agricultural loans accessible and ensure agricultural extension services of a high quality,” he said.

“Over the medium term, the aim is to bring about a measurable increase in agricultural output.”

He said that the Ilima/Letsema campaign—which helps recultivate land that has been lying idle—will be intensified to enhance household food security. Other farmland will be protected from encroachment by developers.

“While we focus on encouraging communities to grow their own food, measures will also be put in place to ensure access by poor households to basic foods at affordable prices; and generally to improve the logistics of food distribution,” he said. He also undertook to promote rural transport infrastructure and services.

“This will include non-motorised transport infrastructure, provision of rural transport passenger facilities and rural freight transport logistics,” he said. “It pains us to see women carrying groceries walking long distances from the taxi drop-off point to their homes. Many rural school children also walk unimaginable distances to schools due to lack of proper roads and lack of transport.”—I-Net Bridge