Government’s proposed ban on foreign land ownership will apply only to agricultural land, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
Responding in Parliament following a robust two-day, joint-sitting debate on his State of the Nation Address, he told MPs that placing a 12 000 hectare ceiling on land ownership would not be done in a way that threatened food security.
Referring to the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill, Zuma said he had received emails from concerned members of the public on land ownership and reform.
“I was asked whether a foreign national wishing to buy a home in Johannesburg would be able to do that and if the limit on foreign ownership was confined to agricultural land.
“The answer is that the Land Holdings Bill applies to agricultural land. It does not affect those foreign nationals who are planning to buy homes for residences.”
He had also received queries on whether the new policy would apply to multinational corporations in South Africa.
“Multinationals will be affected only if their future property purchases consist of agricultural land.”
Zuma referred to an email he had received from a KwaZulu-Natal sugarcane farmer, who had said that if the proposal to put in place a 12 000 hectare ceiling was passed, “the country would have a food crisis”.
This email had noted that 100 of the country’s farmers produced 70% of its food, and if they were forced to reduce the size of their farms their production could be halved.
“There are two answers to this issue. We are taking these actions precisely because the fate of too many is in the hands of too few,” Zuma said, to loud applause from ruling party benches.
“We are keenly aware of the contribution of the country’s hard-working farmers to the economy and food security.
“However, effective participation of the previously excluded black majority in agriculture and food production will only occur meaningfully when they have access to land and [can] work it.”
He assured MPs that “nothing will be done that will prejudice food security in the country”. – Sapa