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Putting farmworkers first

Written by *Lungelo Mkamba
Farmworkers should be first in line for consideration when it came to the redistribution of farmland and their contribution to the agricultural sector should also be recognised.

These are the sentiments of Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti at the recent National Land Tenure Summit in Gauteng.

“In redistribution, I want to put workers first. I want workers to benefit because they work the land,” he said.

It was not right that people who “broke their backs” in farms had nothing, the Minister added.

“We want to address this, given that the farmworkers have made contributions in these farms. We need to look at how we reward them with ownership.

“We will buy the land and redistribute it. And the first people we will consider for that redistribution are the workers on the land, before we bring in anybody from elsewhere… We have to recognise their contribution to the development of the agricultural sector in our country.”

The Minister said he was encouraged by people’s views on the department’s policies, especially the Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land proposal, which has become commonly known as the 50-50 policy.

He said that those who are opposed to the 50-50 policy had been given three years to come up with alternatives but they failed to do so.

According to Minister Nkwinti, 437 commercial farmers were already helping the department to train workers and emerging farmers for a period of five years.

*Lungelo Mkamba works for the Department of Rural Development.