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Minister’s latitude in farming bill could produce bitter harvest

Author: John Kane-Berman

THE government plans to do to farming what it has done to mining. In terms of legislation being processed through Parliament, all agricultural land is to be taken into the custodianship of the state “for the benefit of all South Africans”. 

This wording, contained in the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Framework Bill of 2014, introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, reproduces wording from the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002. 

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana is chairman of the South African Communist Party. 

The deadline for comment on the bill was May 30. 

The bill recognises that landowners and users of agricultural land have the “right to farm”. But it then authorises the minister to make regulations “pertaining” to this right. 

The bill further empowers him to carry out inspections and “collect specimens” of how agricultural land is being used and to issue compliance “directives”.

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