FOREIGNERS were buying land in SA at three times the rate of the government, a situation that was a "recipe for chaos", Rural Development and Land Affairs Minister Gugile Nkwinti said yesterday.

He was addressing a parliamentary cluster briefing on economic and employment sectors.

"Foreigners are buying land three times more than the government in the country; that is partly why we have to look at the system in SA," Nkwinti said while outlining further details of the government's review of its land tenure policy.

"It's inevitable because at some point we will end up not having land as a country. So we will look at the quantities and at some point we will make this information available."

Land remains an emotive issue and has proven to be a thorny problem in SA since 1994. Nkwinti said the skewed land ownership patterns in SA were unsustainable and in part drove the need for a review of the land tenure policy.

"Now you have many South Africans who do not have land. You have very few South Africans (who own land) and foreigners who do own land. It is a recipe for chaos and conflict in the country.

"We have reached the point that we look at the process as a whole, fundamentally examine it.

"Now we think that this land tenure system is right. South Africans must express themselves on that. So that is what we will do."

He repeated that the government would not meet its target of turning over 30% of arable land to the black majority by 2014 as it did not have the R72bn needed. Instead of setting a new deadline, the department would focus on making redistributed land more productive.

The minister also said the policy of willing buyer, willing seller was unaffordable. "Willing buyer, willing seller . is beyond our reach. We do not have R72bn between now and 2014 and we don't want to target now because we want to balance development and acquisition of farms rather than chasing the hectares."

brownk@bdfm.co.za