Obstinate land owners stall reform

Obstructive land owners are among the numerous challenges to making land reform work quickly.

Obstructive land owners are among the numerous challenges to making land reform work quickly.

The obstruction takes a number of forms, such as simply refusing to cooperate, demanding lengthy negotiations and demanding unreasonably high prices.

It also takes the form of trying to dictate the nature of settlements, such as farmers who demand to continue as farm managers with long-term leases or other concessions.

The farmers also refuse to give Land Commission and Department of Land Affairs staff access to farms to investigate claims or deal with farm dwellers.

There should be negotiations with land owners, that we cannot refute, but these should be within clear time frames.

Government officials and land owners need to stick to these agreements.

Where negotiations break down or there is a refusal to cooperate expropriation must be used.

Officials must use their powers to enter farms for investigations and should not be tied to endless negotiations.

A clear message should go out from the most senior level of government that land owners have to cooperate with land reforms as part of transformation.

The cosy relationship, in which organised agriculture meets the minister and the president on a regular basis while landless people cannot get a hearing, must change.

Tshepo Diale, GaRankuwa

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