The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Farmers urged not to panic over land issue

The Mercury

12 Sep 2019

SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI siyabonga.mkhwanazi@inl.co.za

DEPUTY President David Mabuza has urged farmers not to panic over the expropriation of land without compensation, saying they were needed in the country.

He said yesterday that the process of expropriating land without compensation would be done within the confines of the law and the Constitution.

Parliament is busy with the process to amend section 25 of the Constitution.

The National Assembly gave the ad hoc committee on land expropriation until March next year to finalise amendments to the Constitution.

The opposition has threatened to take the process to the Constitutional Court, as they believe it was flawed when a report was adopted before the elections.

But Mabuza said there was no need for anyone to panic.

“I want to say to our commercial farmers that there is no need to panic. We want to keep your skills, we want to keep you here,” said Mabuza.

He said the process of redistributing land had already started after they identified state-owned land.

“The president has established an inter-ministerial committee that I am chairing, that is handling land reform. We have looked at all the land that is in the hands of the state.

“We have started with the land that is owned by the national government and its entities, and this land must be redistributed to the people,” said Mabuza.

They had identified 278 pieces of land that were in the hands of the state, which would be redistributed.

He said they were also waiting for Parliament to finalise amendments to the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. Mabuza said that this would be done in an orderly manner.

“We are going to do this within the confines of the law. We will expropriate land without compensation.

“There can’t be any qualms and quibbling, this land was dispossessed,” he said.

The deputy president also warned public servants to pay service providers on time.

He said there was no point in public services sitting with invoices for months while small businesses collapsed as a result.

Action must be taken against officials who failed to pay service providers on time, he said. The law was on the side of the government to deal with such people.

Mabuza also raised concerns about ballooning municipal debt. He said that municipalities were owed more than R165 billion by households, departments and businesses.

The debt had been escalating for several years, and some municipalities were cash-strapped.

Mabuza added that he was equally concerned by the R19.9bn owed by municipalities to Eskom.

The power utility is sitting on a debt of more than R440bn and the government has injected billions of rand into it to keep it from collapsing.