Deputy President David Mabuza. Picture: NTSWE MOKOENA
Deputy President David Mabuza. Picture: NTSWE MOKOENA

State-owned land, including land owned by state-owned enterprises, will be targeted first for the purposes of land redistribution, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Thursday.

Mabuza spoke at The Land Solution conference under way in Bela Bela, where land and agrarian reform in SA was being discussed by broadly representative delegates of the agricultural sector.

Mabuza also said the ANC would not support land grabs, which undermine the economy and agricultural production, and that the government would take steps to put a stop to it.

At the same time, he said, the government would also not tolerate SA being undermined internationally, referring to statements made by lobby group Afriforum and an unconfirmed list it released of farms targeted for expropriation without compensation.

"There is no government-supported onslaught against white farmers," he said.

Instead, he said, the nation was able to resolve its land problems. "The government values agriculture as the backbone of the economy. Land reform must not fracture society and it must not threaten what society has achieved [since 1994]."

The lessons from the Zimbabwean experience with land reform must be learnt, he said, "the good and the bad".

Earlier during the conference, Dan Kriek, the president of commercial farmers’ union Agri SA, said SA could not expropriate itself out of trouble, but that "we have to develop ourselves out of trouble".

The way it would be done would be in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), and farmers would take responsibility for it.

The NDP estimates that one-million jobs could be created in agriculture.

Mabuza said the purpose of land reform was not just for the sake of access, but to make land available to the people who worked the land. "It would be done within the confines of the constitution."

Repeating assurances given by President Cyril Ramaphosa that land reform would not harm the economy, Mabuza said the idea was not to impair commercial agricultural production, but to expand production and provide access to land for productive use, "especially where land has already been redistributed".

Without divulging specifics, Mabuza said unproductive land, such as mine-owned land, would be targeted. He said feedback from the mining industry was that it was not interested in farming and was committed to returning land to farmers.

He called on farmers to invest in the sector and to increase production, saying that the government would be working closely with organised agriculture to manage post-settlement support.