South Africa’s government is planning to impose limits on farm sizes to free up parcels of land, to hand over to blacks, said a minister on Saturday.
The country’s minister of rural development and land reform, Gugile Nkwinti told Reuters that the government was planning to set a range of limits – from a 1,000-hectare “small-scale” farm, up to the largest allowed, at 12,000 hectares.
“If you are a small-scale farm and have 1,400 HA, we will buy the 400, and leave you with your 1,000. We will buy the extra and redistribute it to black people,” the minister said.
South Africa’s government has planned to speed up land redistribution that has remained predominantly under the ownership of white settlers.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been under pressure to speed up its agrarian reforms in a country where access to land remains a thorny issue. Recent research by land activists showed that in 1994, due to colonial dispossession and apartheid, 87 percent of South African land was owned by whites and only 13 percent by blacks.
Some economists and farming groups have said the proposals could hit investment and production at a time when South Africa is emerging from a major drought – pointing to the economic damage linked to farm seizures in neighboring Zimbabwe.
Experts estimate about 8 million hectares of farmland have been transferred to black owners since the end of apartheid.