Dan Kriek, Agri SA’s President
South Africa–Agri SA fully understands the need for land reform and the frustration with the apparent slow progress and is committed to orderly and sustainable land reform. However, politics and emotion dominated the debate on land in the Nasional Assembly on Tuesday. The EFF proposed a motion which can pave the way for the scrapping or amendment of the property clause in the Constitution. The ANC supported the motion with a number of amendments. The motion was also supported by some of the smaller political parties. The amendments proposed by the ANC includes that the matter should be dealt with by the constitutional review committee and was intended to bring the motion in line with the ANC congress resolution, that requires that such a step should increase agricultural production and improve food security.
Rational arguments regarding the possible implications that such a step may hold for the agricultural sector and the broader economy were absent from the debate. The fact is that financial institutions are substantially invested in the sector and that expropriation without compensation will also impact negatively on the banking sector. Such a step will probably lead to a situation where financial institutions will no longer make production loans available to farmers. Without these loans, farmers cannot purchase seed, fertiliser, feed or implements and will be unable to produce. This may lead to food shortages, price increases, food related riots and social instability.
The ANC and EFF clearly did not take heed of the true facts regarding the failure of land reform. It appears that the governing party has ignored the findings of the High-Level Panel on Key Legislation, which was appointed by Parliament. This panel found, after a thorough investigation, that the property clause and the requirement that compensation be paid upon expropriation, were not impediments to land reform. Instead, an insufficient budget, lack of political will, poor implementation and corruption were identified as impediments. It is apparently easier to amend the Constitution than to address the real problems bedevilling land reform.