Statement issued by Thomas Walters MP, DA Shadow Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, March 23 2015:

I will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform, Phumuzile Ngwenya-Mabila, requesting her to summon the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, to commit to a date by when he will table the Land Holdings Bill to Parliament.

This follows remarks made by the Minister, at the latest Indaba held by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), that the Land Holdings Bill must be passed by September of this year. With such a tight deadline the DA believes that this will lead to the Bill being pushed through without comprehensive public participation.

The Land Holdings Bill will introduce a law on land caps – whereby no individual will hold more than 12 000ha – and the prohibition of foreign ownership of agricultural land.

This Bill will not only caps land ownership, it caps investment and caps job creation. Effectively, when farms grow beyond the ANC’s proposed cap, government will expropriate them. This will preclude investment across the sector, including in in black-owned agri-businesses that have grown beyond a certain point.

This Bill is a populist pre-election bid by the ANC to win votes in the 2016 Local Government Elections. The disastrous effects of this Bill will be felt by all South African’s, long after the election and it is for this reason that it should face proper parliamentary scrutiny.

The Executive cannot set deadlines and dictate to Parliament, as the Minister seems to be doing. It is not for Parliament to rubber stamp the Executive’s will but rather to interrogate whether or not a piece of legislation is in the interest of the public.

Parliament as the representative of the people has a duty to interrogate every piece of proposed legislation to ensure that it stands up to the values as espoused in our Constitution. Public participation is one of those values and it cannot be side-lined when it is politically convenient for the ANC.