South Africa's government has drafted a new land policy that proposes limits to land ownership by its own citizens and foreigners, its Rural Development and Land Reform Minister said on Wednesday.
Land reform remains a sensitive issue in South Africa nearly two decades after apartheid ended in 1994, with the white minority holding about 87 percent of commercial farm land while blacks only own 13 percent.
The new policy, expected to go before parliament next month, proposes a three tier land tenure system, including private land ownership "with limited extent".
Foreign land ownership would also be tied to "productivity and partnership models with South African citizens," minister Gugile Nkwinti told parliament.
"We have not spoken at all about any nationalisation of land," he said.
He said the policy was part of plans by the government in Africa's biggest economy and largest maize producer to resuscitate its flagging land reform programme, under which it had hoped to transfer a third of all farmland to blacks by 2014.
Nkwinti said it would cost an estimated 72 billion rand ($9.80 billion) to transfer the remaining 19 million hectares (47 million acres) of land by this date, money the government did not have.
The state has been purchasing land as part of a "willing-seller, willing-buyer" scheme, but this is being reviewed because negotiating land prices has proved problematic.
The government has admitted that its land reform programme has failed, and that the initial 2014 target will now be impossible to meet. [ID:nLDE61POL9]
It now planned to acquire and redistribute another 900,000 hectares of white-owned farmland by 2014, depending on the budget.
"I have to acknowledge that the land reform programme implemented to date has not been sustainable and has not provided the anticipated benefits," Nkwinti said.
The land issue has been brought into sharp focus by the decline in agriculture in neighbouring Zimbabwe where white commercial farmers were often violently evicted by President Robert Mugabe's government.
Pretoria has vowed that its own land reform will be orderly, but critics say many of the same problems faced by Zimbabwe, including lack of proper support for new farmers and inadequate farming skills, are likely to stymie South Africa's programme.
The draft policy is likely to attract heavy criticism from farmers and opposition political parties, who were last week angered by the Land Reform department's proposal to nationalise all farmland in order to speed up the process of handing over farm land to blacks.
That plan was opposed by farmers and opposition political parties, who said it could dent both foreign and local investment and food security in one of the continent's most developed farming sectors.
Nkwinti said his department would spend about 900 million rand ($122.5 million) in the 2010/11 financial year to refinance the land reform programme, boost food security and create jobs.Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Mart 2010, 17:43