Initiative to help the poor get land should be nonracial, AfriForum says

AfriForum says it supports the initiative to help poor and vulnerable people get land as long as it is not racially biased.It says the current government proposals perpetuate state control over land.
AfriForum says it supports the initiative to help poor and vulnerable people get land as long as it is not racially biased.It says the current government proposals perpetuate state control over land.
Image: 123RF/Helen Filatova

Minority rights organisation AfriForum said on Thursday that it supported the initiative to help the poor and vulnerable to gain access to land - but said it had to be  “nonracial”.

“Such a policy should be done on a nonracial basis. Beneficiaries should have the requisite skills needed to run a farm and they should be given full title to the land,” AfriForum said in its submission on the Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy on Thursday.

This policy, which was issued by the department of rural development and land reform for public comment in the Government Gazette on January 3, provides for a credible and transparent process for land allocation and beneficiary selection.

The public was invited to submit written comment within 60 calendar days of the publication of the notice.

In its submission, AfriForum said the policy proposed by the department excluded beneficiaries on the basis of race.

“This flies in the face of the foundational values in the constitution, of nonracialism and equality before the law.”

The organisation also said the policy perpetuated state control over land instead of ensuring that beneficiaries became the true owners of land by receiving title deeds.

The organisation said it favoured a land reform policy that served to help poor and vulnerable South Africans.

However, it said the policy required the reintroduction of race classification measures to decide who would be eligible to receive land from the state.

The organisation said providing someone with land was no guarantee that the farm would be successful.

“The government spent more than R1.4bn buying farms in the Eastern Cape to redistribute to aspirant farmers. Of the 265 farms purchased, only 26 remain viable,” the organisation said.

It said in 90% of those cases, once thriving farms that produced food and employed people were now in ruins.


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