Tim Cohen Senior editor: Business Day

As a journalist, there is one thing you learn the hard way: answers depend a lot on the question. Say you said to someone: "Would you like this bag of oranges free?" Most people would probably say yes. What’s to lose? Change the question, and the answer will be different. "Would you like a one in a 100 chance to get this bag of oranges free, but the moment you accept the oranges they will be worthless?" Who’s going to agree to that? In essence, the land reform "debates" taking place around the country have been this kind of exercise in duplicity. By implicitly asking "do you want land for free?" the answer is obvious. Who is going to say no?Yet, there is a mathematical problem here. SA’s land mass covers 1.2-million square kilometres. But it is mostly semi-desert. We have only 12-million hectares of arable land, about the same as Spain, a little less than Tanzania and less than half that of Turkey. Furthermore, SA’s level of arable land per person is declining as the population rise...

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