You have just one day left to object to a proposed Bill on Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Framework that will have far-reaching effects on our country if it is passed in parliament.
Dr Anthea Jeffery, the Head of Policy Research for the Institute of Race Relations writes: “This bill contains a key clause stating: ‘Agricultural land is the common heritage of all the people of South Africa and the Department [of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] is the custodian thereof for the benefit of all South Africans. This provision echoes the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) of 2002, under which all mineral resources have effectively been expropriated without compensation.”
Dr Jeffery concludes her article with the following comment: “The communist goal of vesting all land in the State so as to break the capitalist system will also come closer to being realised. This objective is doubtless close to the heart of the author of the Bill, Senzeni Zokwana, who is both the current agriculture minister and the chairman of the South African Communist Party.”
Ms Annette Steyn, the DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries issued the following media release this morning:
“I have written to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, to request that he urgently extend the deadline for public comment on the Bill on Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Framework.
This Bill seeks to vest all agricultural land in the State as ‘custodian’ for the people of South Africa. It is a seriously problematic Bill that will cause further havoc in the agricultural sector.
The deadline for public comment is tomorrow, 30 May 2015. The public have only had one month in which to submit their comments on this Bill. Given the far-reaching consequences, the public should be given more time in which to submit their views.
Government interference on this scale in the agricultural sector undermines the freedom of emerging and commercial farmers to actively pursue opportunities to develop their businesses in a stable economic environment.
As it is, government is fundamentally failing to support emerging farmers, and to provide a stable policy framework for commercial farmers to grow and succeed.
There are several problematic areas in this Bill. Section three states that “as the custodian of the nation’s agricultural land, the Department may approve, reject, control, administer and manage any rezoning or subdivision of agricultural land.”
This Bill further states that the Minister could expropriate land which has not been optimally used for a certain period of time. “A farmer must – (a) actively use and develop the agricultural land concerned to its optimal agricultural potential, with due regard to the farming enterprise concerned, and if not used at all for agricultural purposes for 3 consecutive years, the Minister may consider the agricultural land concerned for expropriation at a lower price than would be paid for similar land in the same geographical area.”
Clearly, with such clauses, the public needs to be given more time to properly engage, comment and recommend alternatives to the proposals in this Bill.
The DA believes that the best interests of the South African people must be at the heart of any decision involving property rights of individuals and the dignity and autonomy that comes with property ownership.
Given these rights and the government’s poor track record in the management of national resources, it cannot be in the best interests of the emerging and commercial agriculture sectors for this Bill to be passed.
This Bill, in its current form, only serves to undermine the agricultural sector on which South Africans rely for food security.”
Comments should be submitted in writing to
Fax: 012 319 7593
The Director: Land Use and Soil Management Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Private Bag X120 Pretoria 0001
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Cnr Annie Botha and Union Streets
The name, address, telephone, fax numbers and email address of the person or organisation submitting the comments must be provided.