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Shifting quicksands of land drama

Author: Neels Blom

In 1995, the aggregate land-reform target (labour tenure rights, restitution and redistribution programmes put together) was the transfer to black hands of 30% of the 122-million hectares of the country’s total surface area. It soon became apparent that this target had already been met when state-owned land was taken into account, according to research by Ernest Pringle, farmers body Agri SA’s land expert.

An obvious thing to have done at that point might have been to declare the programme a success and allow the land market and agriculture to settle down, but had it done so, the government would have had to either relinquish to the people the land it was holding, or admit that the land hog at the trough was, in fact, the state itself.

The target then changed to 30% of all high-potential farmland, which is only about 3% of the country’s area.

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