FS Government oversteps mandate on land reform

Roy Jankielsohn

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The Free State provincial government has announced through its spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, that government intends launching an ambitious pilot project that would seek to transfer ownership of 50% of farm land to farm workers who live and work on such land. This was apparently decided during a provincial government lekgotla held in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

As reported in the media, the proposal includes increasing the minimum wage for farm workers to R2 420 per month. ANC provincial secretary, William Bulwane, is reported as stating that his party would take a radical approach to land reform and land distribution.

The DA recognises the political need to undertake a process of transformation that facilitates redress of past injustices and contributes to nation building and food security. Such a process must be inclusive and consultative, taking the inputs of all stakeholders into account.

The announcement by the provincial government is premature given the national nature of this issue. Any decisions regarding land reform and land restitution must take into account the national legal framework and constitutional prerogatives in this regard, the need for an inclusive process, and the possible effects of decision-making on a very frail provincial and national economy.

Sporadic political statements emanating from a provincial government on land reform could damage the spirit of inclusivity within which such a process must be undertaken.

The Free State Provincial Government is clearly overstepping its constitutional mandate and should first concentrate on basic services such as healthcare, education, and roads infrastructure.