August 3, 2005

The IFP questions the sanity of the delegates of the weekend Land Summit in Johannesburg who rejected the current willing seller-willing buyer principle as the basis for land redistribution. The principle in question, the Summit concluded, has not delivered enough.

"Whether we like it or not, there are no viable alternatives to the willing seller-willing buyer scheme," said Dr Lionel Mtshali MPP who leads the IFP caucus in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Parliament and holds his party's finance and economic development portfolio.

The government wants to see 30 percent of agricultural land transferred to the previously disadvantaged by 2014. "This is an ominous vision," said Dr Mtshali. "It is estimated that 90 percent of farms handed over to emerging farmers are no longer productive. If the government reaches its target, we will lose as much as 29 percent of our current agricultural productivity. The consequences will be devastating."

The IFP wonders what the real objectives of land restitution are. "Are we striving for an impressive statistical number of black farmers or tolerable levels of productivity upon which our consumer markets rely?" - asked Dr Mtshali. "The collapse in agricultural productivity following the ill-fated land grabs of 2000 in Zimbabwe, which have caused widespread famine, is something the Land Summit failed to consider."

The IFP believes there are no credible alternatives to the willing seller-willing buyer principle. "We do not want to go back to apartheid-style forced removals or revisit any other form of land grabbing that has previously failed elsewhere. None of these solutions inspire investor confidence or promote productivity," said Dr Mtshali.

"In fact, no form of restitution will help, if it is unaccompanied by a viable programme of farmer education and training, resourcing, continued support and supervision. The IFP would like to see more farmers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. But we would also like to see them productive and proud," said Dr Mtshali.

Dr LPHM Mtshali - 082 556 0224