Photo: Neville Nel / Flickr
Photo: Neville Nel / Flickr
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza delivered her department’s budget speech for 2019 in Parliament on Tuesday, and she’s charged with negotiating the future of South Africa’s biggest hot-button issue: Land expropriation, and the necessary reforms to make it a reality.
Didiza’s speech got a mixed reaction, and she has since been flagged up for failing to address the issue of property rights in South Africa. However, there were some positive moments where the minister indicated that agricultural finance would be bolstered in the months to come.
But what is high up on Didiza’s priority list? We’ve put together some of the major land expropriation issues the politician has promised to tackle early doors, in order to get the ball rolling on divisive redistribution plans.
Nearly 60 000 District Six residents were affected when the apartheid regime passed the Group Areas Act on 11 February 1966. The passing of the act meant District Six residents were forcibly removed from their homes as the area was at the time declared a “whites only” section. Didiza says she’s doing what she can to right this wrong:
“In the past week, we have met with the community of District Six, represented by their respective committees, albeit the fact that there are legal issues between us. We would like to thank them for committing to work with us to find a lasting solution to the current stalemate.”Thoko Didiza
Didiza implored the National Legislature to get busy on finalising the wording of the impending Land Expropriation Bill. She wants the terms finalised soon, to establish clarity on how the non-compensatory model will work. It’s understood this bill will be responsible for outlining how South Africa pays for the entire redistribution programme.
The minister is keen to use land expropriation as a vehicle to explore other opportunities for the South African farming industry. She named the markets of both beef and citrus production as areas where agricultural businesses should be targeting further development:
“The opening up of markets in other countries for beef and fruits are just but one example of the growth opportunities that we can maximise. We will also work with provinces to ensure that services are undertaken at scale.”Thoko Didiza
President of Agri SA Dan Kriek attended the speech on Tuesday. He welcomed the focus on partnerships, the commercialisation of black farmers and the productive use of land. Didiza also revealed veterinary services would be upscaled, to deal with disease outbreak that has affected production in the agricultural sector.
All of the issues were discussed with the intention of finding a speedy resolution, keeping Kriek and his organisation relatively happy with the outcomes:
“Despite policy uncertainty around property rights, it is also positive that the Minister has recognised the importance of ethical conduct, the need to strengthen institutions, the problems with communal property associations and the need to have a bigger focus on bio-security”Dan Kriek