Expecting farmers to transfer 40% of their agricultural interest to black shareholders is “outrageous” and “totally unacceptable”, agricultural union TAU-SA said on Tuesday.
TAU-SA was reacting to Agricultural Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s announcement on Monday that the government was looking into a share scheme for black farmers to replace the willing buyer, willing seller principle and reach land reform targets.
“TAU, to say the least, is absolutely appalled by this announcement,” its president Ben Marais said in a statement.
Joemat-Pettersson said the government’s aim of transferring 30% of the country’s agricultural land to black ownership by 2014 percent had failed because of the willing buyer, willing seller system. Only 5% had been transferred so far.
The new plan might be included in a revised black empowerment charter for the agricultural sector, she said.
Marais said TAU-SA had tried in vain to meet with Joemat-Pettersson for some time.
“Meetings were postponed, and in the last case, she did not even bother to give notice that she would not be available,” he said.
This had created the impression that Joemat-Pettersson could not meet the union in person because she knew what its reaction would be to the “unacceptable and ridiculous plan”.
“The minister wants to accuse the farmers that they are responsible for not making it possible to transfer 30% of the land to black people, because they apply the willing buyer, willing seller principle,” he said.
“A demographical study for the Development Bank tabled in 2001 indicates that the state, together with black people, brown people and Asians already own more than 56% of land in South Africa.”
The fact remained that more land was being targeted in a manner which would boil down to next-to-nothing compensation.
In that case, Marais said, farmers would then depend on the free-market system to acquire proper compensation for their land.
He questioned whether the minister wanted to see a 30% failure of all agricultural land, after announcing the “outrageous” idea without consulting with agriculture or farmers.
“Will market-related prices for the shares will be considered? Or is it the intention that the shares to be transferred will also be free or next to nothing? It will be as unacceptable as unilateral expropriation.”
TAU-SA members would oppose the new plan in the national interest, because it was a blueprint for the destruction of food security, Marais said. — Sapa