Thursday, August 11, 2005

SA 'to learn from' land seizures

South Africa's new deputy president has been condemned after saying that the country should "learn lessons" on fast land reform from Zimbabwe.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's comments were "irresponsible".

The eviction of almost all of Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers is widely seen as having led to the country's economic crisis.

South Africa recently said it would move to speed up land reform.

Some 80% of agricultural land is owned by white South Africans, who make up only 10% of the population - the legacy of apartheid laws.

Since the African National Congress won power in all-race elections in 1994, it has not seized white-owned land but has pursued a policy of "willing buyer, willing seller".


But Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said this had been "too slow and too structured."

"There needs to be a bit of oomph. That's why we may need the skills of Zimbabwe to help us," she said.

Zimbabwe offers a textbook example of ways in which land reform should not be carried out
Kraai van Niekerk
Democratic Alliance

At the same time as the Zimbabwe government moved to speed up its own land reform in 2000, thousands of government supporters forcibly occupied white-owned farms, leading to several deaths, many rapes and countless beatings of black farm-workers.

The government denied opposition accusations that it had orchestrated these land invasions.

"Zimbabwe offers a textbook example of ways in which land reform should not be carried out," said DA agriculture spokesman Kraai van Niekerk.

He said existing laws were sufficient to redistribute land and blamed delays on government inefficiency.

At a summit on land reform held last month, government officials said they would do more to speed up the redistribution of land from white to black farmers.

Since 1994, only 4% of land has been acquired by the government from private owners for redistribution purposes, and unused state land has also been redistributed.

Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed deputy president in June after her predecessor, Jacob Zuma, was implicated in corruption allegations.

Story from BBC NEWS: