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‘Land Holdings Bill holds no merit’

Andries du Toit believes the proposed Land Holdings Bill to be tabled in Parliament is a political showcase.

Farming. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Professor Andries du Toit from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of Western Cape on Thursday said the proposed Land Holdings Bill, to be tabled in Parliament, holds no real merit as its politics overshadows its policies.

"These are announcements that sound very impressive if you make them in the absence of rural data and analysis. They fall short of addressing the very real problems - a large number of people are poor and landless and something needs to be done about it. The policies fall shy of saying anything about it."

President Jacob Zuma this week said that limitations on foreign ownership of land would only apply to agricultural areas.

This comes after Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries , Bheki Cele, said land would be shared out between farmworkers working on the land, but would be restricted to 12,000 hectares per person.

He was addressing Members of Parliament on the second day of the State of the Nation Address debate on Wednesday.

Du Toit, who's baffled by the proposals, isn't clear what the proposals intended to address as because they're not based on recent and reliable data.

"There aren't any good figures available anywhere, we don't know how many foreigners actually own agricultural land but it's probably in the region of two or three percent."

He says it seems that the ministry is taking aim at "vanishing" small targets, like the small percentage of foreigners who own land, which in many ways are irrelevant to the problems of land reform in South Africa.

"The vast majority of farmworkers in this country are temporary or seasonal workers who live off the farms. Those were the people toi-toing in the streets in the 2012 farmworkers uprising so they are the people feeling the stress."

LISTEN: Professor Andries Du Toit speaks to 567 Cape Talk's John Maytham.

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