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'Consultation on land reform will happen'

The agriculture minister says there’ll be a consultation process over the impact of a land reform proposal.

Former NUM president, now Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana has assured commercial farmers they will be able to engage government about the impact of a controversial new policy proposal in the sector.

The proposal, put forward by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, is officially propositioning that workers take over half of the farms they work on and that government will pay for the land.

The government will then place the farmers' compensation money in a trust to help the workers.

The land reform plan has provoked negative reaction from organised agriculture.

Addressing a business breakfast in Cape Town this morning, Zokwana says farmers will be consulted.

"It is a call for business people, for those in the industry, to engage with the minister. I agree that if you are not sure whether your farm will still be yours next year, you may not be able to feel strongly about putting more money in expanding and improving conditions on your farm."

Last month the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies said government and farmers need to carefully interrogate the proposal, which would allow the state to award portions of farms to labourers.

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

"Is it the land itself or is it the equity in the business? In some points in the documents, it suggests it is actually the land while in other points, the equity and the business."

Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille has said the land reform policy proposal simply won't work.

Zille questioned why government had abandoned the National Development Plan (NDP)'s proposals for land reform.

She said the NDP's proposal goes further than farm equity share schemes in the Western Cape, which she added have been 80 percent successful.

The DA leader mentioned that the Western Cape government is prepared to implement the NDP proposals as a pilot project.

She said Nkwinti's proposal is not the answer to the urgent need for land reform.