AGRI-SA, the South African agricultural industry association, has raised concern at government's plans to expropriate white owned land without compensation.
Reacting to the State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the organisation said it was highly worried with the contradictory statements related to acknowledging agriculture as the biggest contributorthe past quarters in terms of economic growth and job creation in South Africa.
"Not only does it (expropriation) subvert the letter and spirit of Section 25 of our National Constitution, but it also entrenches the perception that the governing party has no regard for the founding principles of our newly founded democracy," said Dan Kriek, President of Agri SA stated.
He said it was unclear from whom will land be expropriated and to whom will it be given.
"Such populist statements will do more harm than good and contradicts the underlying theme of the State of the Nation Address to grow the sector through investment to unleash its fullest potential," Kriek said.
Agri SA said it was therefore appealing to the African National Congress (ANC) government to desist from such "populist rhetoric" and to engage with the commercial agricultural industry to find amicable solutions to the land question.
Omri van Zyl, Agri SA Executive Director, said the white farmers were now developing their own land transformation plan that would be commercially driven and will aim to increase national production significantly without having to change the constitution.
"Undermining the notion of private ownership and still expecting the private sector to enthusiastically embrace partnerships between themselves and the state will not happen," van Zyl added.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa in his maiden state of the nation address (SONA) told a packed parliament his government would embark on expropriation of land without compensation.
"This year, we will take decisive action to realise the enormous economic potential of agriculture. We will accelerate our land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation.
"We will pursue a comprehensive approach that makes effective use of all the mechanisms at our disposal. Guided by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the governing party, this approach will include the expropriation of land without compensation.
We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid," said Ramaphosa.
He admitted agriculture presented one of the greatest opportunities to significantly grow South Africa's economy while creating many jobs.
"Agriculture made the largest contribution, by a significant margin, to the improved growth of our economy in the second and third quarters of 2017.
"Government will undertake a process of consultation to determine the modalities of the implementation of this resolution," Ramaphosa said. - CAJ News