But she avoided expressing a view on the worsening mood among farmers over their physical security and security of tenure.
Introducing her budget vote in Parliament, Joemat-Pettersson, who last week attended the funeral of slain Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugene TerreBlanche, promised to work tirelessly for safety on farms and assured farmers that agrarian reform would include the retention of a competitive commercial sector.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs recently sent shock waves through the farming community when its strategic plan spoke of declaring all productive land a national asset — interpreted as nationalisation. This uncertainty was not resolved when its minister, Gugile Nkwinti, said a new tenure system would include a “restricted” form of freehold.
When asked at a briefing if she was concerned about the effects of these statements on the atmosphere in rural areas, Joemat-Pettersson said that she had participated in the “cluster discussions” on the issue. She came under fire during the budget debate when both Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Laurie Bosman and Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald raised the issue of nationalisation of productive land.
Bosman said there was a continuous confrontational stance towards commercial agriculture, resulting in huge disinvestment, a decline in employment and “an exodus of producers from this important sector to other countries in Africa”.
“The DA’s view is that nationalisation equals expropriation without compensation and would result in a demise of the cornerstone of the economy, resulting in total disruption of food production and disinvestment from the sector.” Business Day