With votes counted and the ANC’s support having fallen sharply to only 40%, some form of coalition government is likely to govern SA. The nature of such an arrangement is likely to emerge in coming days and weeks.

As with any coalition negotiations, trade-offs are likely to be made involving several government functions and policies. The question that should be addressed in the agriculture sector is: what are the implications for potential changes in government functions on agriculture and land reform policy?

Regardless of the formation of the coalition the ANC settles with, the policies of the agriculture, land reform and rural development department should be maintained.


Still, from a reading of the top four political parties trailing the ANC in the voter outcome, two stand out with contrasting views on land reform to the current policy path, namely the EFF and the uMkhonto weSizwe party (MK). These parties have a strong preference for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The MK manifesto states that the government should “expropriate all land without compensation, transferring ownership to the people under the custodianship of the state and traditional leaders”. This is the direct opposite of the programme of rolling out title deeds and strengthening land tenure that the department is now pursuing.

Similarly, the EFF manifesto states that its approach to the resolution of the land question will be “anchored on the principle of expropriation of land without compensation for equal redistribution and use, and for the state to be the custodian of all land in SA.” This policy path is unfavourable for investment, long-term inclusive agricultural growth agenda, and job creation.

For its part, the DA champions strong property rights. Moreover, the DA has been implementing national agricultural policies in the Western Cape. This suggests that the DA would not be inclined to significantly change the agricultural policy path.

The IFP has a slightly different view, which advocates the growth of SA’s agriculture, with the release of land to the beneficiaries in the state’s hands. This, too, is aligned with ANC policies.

The slight ambiguity of the IFP policy on land is the following statement from the manifesto: “Continue to support the policy of land expropriation with reasonable compensation.”

From a purely agricultural perspective, the IFP policies are aligned with the government’s approach. For example, the IFP states that the government must “ensure significant state support, especially for new entrants into the agriculture industry”. This work is already being implemented through the blended finance instrument that the department is rolling out in partnership with financial institutions.

The IFP further argues for partnerships, stating that the government must “promote the involvement of both private and public sectors in the country’s agricultural development processes”. This partnership approach is at the heart of the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan.

Property rights

Admittedly, forming alliances would likely result in trade-offs in policy positions of the political parties that would join the ANC in government. Therefore, whether there is solid conviction for this expropriation of land without compensation policy in the EFF and MK is something that is likely to become clearer as parties outline their non-negotiables.

Ultimately, when the new administration has been formed, the master plan should remain the primary programme for the government to drive inclusive growth in SA’s agriculture.

I also believe that the protection of strong property rights and the continuous release of government land to appropriately selected beneficiaries are essential steps in driving inclusive growth in agriculture.

The leadership at the department remains in office until a new government is formed. Much about the political leadership of the department in the new administration remains unknown.

Written for and first published in the Business Day.

Follow me on X (@WandileSihlobo). 

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