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Cosatu supports farm plan 'in principle'

A policy proposal would see farmers being forced to give half their land to their workers.

A policy proposal would see farmers being forced to give half their land to their workers. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it supports in principle proposals that would see farmers being forced to give half their land to their workers.

The Rural Development Department's policy proposal stipulates that government will pay for the land but place that money in a trust to help labourers.

It has sparked concerns in the sector, with Agri SA saying it could be unconstitutional if implemented.

But Cosatu's Patrick Craven holds a different view.

"We will of course need to see the detail because often that's where the problems arise. In principle yes, we think this is part of the overall strategy to transfer ownership to the majority of the people."

Meanwhile, the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies says government and farmers need to carefully interrogate the proposal.

The institute's Ruth Hall says the proposed legislation in its current form is ambiguous.

"There's a fundamental ambiguity here. Is it the land itself or is it the equity and the business? At some point in the document it suggests that it's actually the land and at other points that it's equity in the business."

The institute says the land proposal could have has widespread repercussions.

Hall says government needs to make sure they've done their homework on the matter.

"There are a whole lot of different policies that actually need to cohere. The need is for an overarching policy process that develops one new white paper on land reform and rural development. I think the minister now has the opportunity in this next term of office to lead such an inclusive process."

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