ANC’s land plans economic suicide, warns Agri SA

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Johannesburg – Agri SA warned on Thursday that should Section 25 of the Constitution be amended to allow for land expropriation without compensation, financial markets will divest and investor confidence will be shattered.

Agri SA questioned why the ANC resolved to amend the
Constitution to allow for land expropriation, citing the High Level Panel on the
Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change, led
by former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

“[It] recently found that the biggest challenge standing in
the way of land reform is not the property rights clause, but the
implementation of land reform policies, procedures and extended entrenched
corruption in the system,” Agri SA President Dan Kriek said in a statement

The agricultural lobby group highlighted that the sector is
driving GDP growth, following the drought and it was the best performing
category across the first three quarter of 2017.

The ANC on Wednesday, resolved to begin work to amend
section 25 of the Constitution, guaranteeing property rights and
allow for expropriation of land without compensation. The only proviso to this
is that the party said it shouldn’t harm agricultural production, food security or
other sectors of the economy.

Agri SA said it wants to discuss this policy decision with newly
elected ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and other leaders 

“We challenge the ANC to explain to South Africans how the
proposed amendment of the Constitution would enhance production or successful
development of new farmers.

“Agriculture has the largest growth potential of any sector
in the economy and we should work together to explore and capitalise on this
opportunity,” the organisation said

Agri SA maintains there are other methods, aside from
expropriation, to empower emerging farmer and rural communities, including
security of tenure which they say will unlock funding opportunities for new
entrants.

President of the resident of the World Farmers’
Organisation, Dr Theo de Jager was also scathing of the ANC’s new policy
direction.

“The fact is that these resolutions cannot attract
investment. And agriculture needs investment. It can create much needed jobs in
rural areas, but agriculture in South Africa should compete with the best in
the world, as it does at the moment.

“New investment is needed in agriculture technology, and new
markets explored to enhance South Africa’s competitiveness,” he stated.

Ramaphosa, in his closing session early on Thursday morning
said the conference had unanimously backed land expropriation without compensation
but promised it would be undertaken in a responsible manner.

In order to pass an amendment to the constitution, the ANC
will require a two thirds majority in parliament. EFF Secretary General Godrich
Gardee tweeted the party will vote with the ANC, to push for expropriation
without compensation.

According to a land audit published by Agri SA last month,
white farmers own almost three-quarters of South Africa’s agricultural land, while the amount of land owned by the government and black people stood at 26.7% in
2016.

Data from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries shows that farm debt to commercial banks was about R89bn in
2016.

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