Saturday, May 01, 2010

(THEZIMBABWETIMES) Zuma rules out farm invasions in SA

Zuma rules out farm invasions in SA
By Our Correspondent
April 29, 2010

JOHANNESBURG – South African President Jacob Zuma has reiterated that his government will not tolerate the lawless invasions of commercial farms as witnessed in Zimbabwe over the past 10 years. Zuma, however, acknowledged that his administration had to move with speed to address land imbalances in the country.

South Africa, which celebrated 16 years of independence on Monday, is struggling to solve the delicate and often emotive issue of land reform which seems to be gathering momentum on a daily basis with everyday protests and farm killings.

Zuma told BUA News, the South African government’s official news outlet Thursday, that there would not be any Zimbabwe-style land invasions in South Africa.

“There will be no similar kinds of land invasions in this country, because we do things within the law,” said Zuma.

He, however, hinted at his government’s frustration with farmers’ reluctance to release land for sale to the government. Zuma said that current land redistribution method of “willing buyer willing seller” must be revisited.

“Significant changes will need to be made to the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ model. Government is investigating less costly ways of land redistribution,” said Zuma.

“The general view is that the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ model has not worked appropriately or adequately thus far. It is very important, however, that it’s done within the ambits of the law.”

Most farmers appear adamant to hold on the land. In rare cases where they have heeded the call to the ‘willing buyer willing seller’ policy, they often priced their farms way out of the government’s reach.

The situation has raised fears of farm invasions with reports that white farmers being murdered at a rate of 3000 a year, according to agricultural organisation Agrisa.

South Africa had set a target to redistribute land to about 30 percent of its population by 2014, a target that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Gugile Nkwithi has already ruled out.

The resettlement exercise will need R80 billion, an amount that the South African government – already dealing with a wide range of other problems such as service delivery, housing, education and health problems – will struggle to mobilise.

There are growing fears that Africa’s biggest economy will deteriorate in sporadic Zimbabwe-style land invasions if the land issue is not addressed as a matter of urgency.

Unlike their Zimbabwean counterparts Zanu-PF, South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) is not in danger of losing political power. But inequalities among blacks and whites in might soon force the ANC – led government to push through some form of radical reforms.

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