NEW Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson says her ministry won't allow the repossession of black-owned farms.
Speaking to the media at Parliament yesterday, Joemat-Pettersson said repossessing black-owned farms would defeat the ANC's goal of putting 30percent of the country's arable land into the hands of black farmers.
The minister said government would look at restructuring any debt owed by black farmers so that they would not lose their farms and "where farmers have lost their land, the state will seek to recoup those farms to make sure that the land stays in the hands of black capital".
Joemat-Pettersson said white farmers would be encouraged to take up offers to farm "elsewhere in Africa" or to enter joint ventures with black farmers.
"If we want to take 30percent of the land for black farmers there has to be an alternative for white farmers.
"We know we are going to reduce their ownership of land."
She said the state planned to invest in "emerging" black farmers, especially those who wanted to reclaim from white farmers the cultivation of crops such as indigenous plants and herbs used to make highly profitable essential oils.
Despite her deputy minister, Pieter Mulder, being the leader of the Freedom Front Plus, a political party representing white voters, Joemat-Pettersson said her ministry would not shy away from "addressing the abuse of farmworkers".
"We will clamp down vociferously on the abuse of farmworkers. Where basic incomes are compromised we're going to have punitive systems put in place."
She also said South Africa was spearheading a debate in Africa on the "decommodification" of basic food stuffs.