Farmers can be a part of making a land reform project work

By Wandile Sihlobo, Tinashe Kapuya & Theo Boshoff 19 April 2018
Two South African female villagers carrying firewood at one of Midland city?s farms outside Durban, South Africa, 17 June 2010 Photo: EPA/ALI HAIDER

There has been a lot of writing on the land reform subject since December 2017 when the ruling party adopted the notion of expropriation without compensation. A number of analysts (ourselves included) warned of the unintended consequences of the aforementioned policy proposal. The abundance of thought-pieces on the negative outcomes of badly managed land acquisition programmes have not been matched by ideas of how to address them.

Having reflected on the possible unintended consequences of expropriation without compensation, it is worth re-looking at some of the existing proposals that were never fully tested, as a means to facilitate land redistribution.

These include the resolutions from the NAREG process, the High-Level panel report, Operation Phakisa, as well a variety of private sector and academic proposals, among others.

The current land policy proposal ascended from the frustration of perceived slow progress, albeit having shown in this piece that there has been progress if one views this process in terms of hectares moved from white farmers to black farmers (not the productivity of the land).

With that said, the ongoing land reform discussions provide a window of opportunity to share ideas on how we imagine the land reform process going forward. In other words, after having highlighted the unintended consequences of expropriation, one can also use this opportunity to share views on the best practice to acquire agricultural land for redistribution.

In June 2017, we argued that land reform processes should be more aligned with the ideas raised in chapter six of the National Development Plan as we believe it has more practical steps of effective land reform productively.

The National Development Plan suggested that the identification of transferable farms and beneficiaries should take place at a district level, facilitated by district land-reform committees that were established in 2015. Under the auspices of district committees, a tripartite joint venture approach on land reform will be established.

Farms for sale could be identified by the committee and a leading successful farmer can be appointed as mentor or co-investor to acquire new land with a qualified beneficiary. The beneficiary should be selected only by the land-reform committee to ensure a good working relationship.

In acquiring the farm, the state can contribute 30% of land value in grant money to the beneficiary. Another 30% can be a loan from the state-owned agricultural bank in the name of the beneficiary and farmer and the remaining 40% would be a cash contribution by other farmers in that particular district.

The contributing farmers would then be exempted from future land-reform claims and the farm could be operated via the farmers’ existing operation to ensure success.

A subsidised interest rate would need to be provided by the state-owned agricultural bank for the loan and backed by a state guarantee in the spirit of risk sharing.

If farmers in districts work together and get at least 30% of land in each district transferred to black farmers and thereafter utilised productively, then land expropriation without compensation would not be needed. Agribusinesses and commodity organisations would also have to provide post-transfer support and mentorship to new beneficiaries.

This can be done only if there is a fair and transparent beneficiary selection; grants and loans are disbursed fast; title deeds are transferred and registered speedily; the government shares in the risk of redistributing land and developing new farming operations, and there is policy stability.

One of the most enduring and fundamental factors in the land-reform debate is the trust deficit between the government and private sector. Trust needs to be built in order to ensure the success and sustainability of the land programme and the agricultural sector. DM

Wandile Sihlobo (@WandileSihlobo) and Tinashe Kapuya (@TinasheKapuya) are agricultural economists. Theo Boshoff is a land policy analyst.


Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!

No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.

Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It's the only thing that grew under Moyane's tenure... the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You - the South African taxpayer.

It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them... gone.

But our job is not yet done. We need more readers to become Maverick Insiders, the friends who will help ensure that many more investigations will come. Contributions go directly towards growing our editorial team and ensuring that Daily Maverick and Scorpio have a sustainable future. We can’t rely on advertising and don't want to restrict access to only those who can afford a paywall subscription. Membership is about more than just contributing financially – it is about how we Defend Truth, together.

So, if you feel so inclined, and would like a way to support the cause, please join our community of Maverick Insiders.... you could view it as the opposite of a sin tax. And if you are already Maverick Insider, tell your mother, call a friend, whisper to your loved one, shout at your boss, write to a stranger, announce it on your social network. The battle for the future of South Africa is on, and you can be part of it.


Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.

Days of Zondo

Fikile ‘Fearfokkol’ Mbalula tripped up by semantics of his Gupta-fix tale

By Jessica Bezuidenhout

"What's the sense in having an eclipse if you can't look at it? Somebody in production sure slipped up this time!" ~ Charles M. Schulz