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No Land Grabs, Says Minister| News by Staff Reporter
Land grabs are not an option, according to Land Reform Minister Nkwinti
Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti last week said land grabs were “not an option” and that to do so would require a change in the Constitution.
“Land grabs are not an option, there is no policy like that,” said Nkwinti. “By doing so you will have to change the Constitution.”
“It is an option that is completely out of touch with reality.”
According to Nkwinti’s deputy, Lechesa Tsenoli, the National Reference Group had provided feedback on the recently published land reform green paper. He said the feedback focused on the three-tier land tenure system, the office of the Valuer-General, the Land Rights Management Board and the Land Management Commission.
The National Reference Group consists of representatives from traditional leadership, organised agriculture, emerging farmers and government.
“These timelines are a key thing,” Tsenoli said, explaining that the group was doing what was necessary to ensure the green paper progressed at a rapid pace. “We need to devise new timeframes to bring forward those projects that were meant to be done at a later stage.
“We must take stock of where we are at and in mid-March complete and merge with consolidated reports, then be able to brief Cabinet.”
Tsenoli added that “For some [land reform] is an issue of life and death. For the state, doing it speedily will prevent that. The right thing to do is to establish policy and legislation to redistribute land in a fair manner.”
According to Nkwinti and his deputy the idea of “willing buyer, willing seller”, however, could not work when the state was involved. “When a farmer hears that the land could be bought, he trebles the price of the farm. ‘If it is the State, then milk it,’ they say,” said Tsenoli.
“When the State enters the market, it disfigures it because it has a social and a political responsibility. The idea only works when it is done between two people,” added Nkwinti.
“With land distribution we need an institution to set the norms and standards so that there will continue to be normalised trade. We hope that this is the right thing to do within the Constitution.”