WIDESPREAD: A farm equity share scheme could address land reform.

The roll-out of a farm equity share scheme model on 90 farms in the Western Cape prompted the Democratic Alliance (DA) yesterday to call on the national government to actively promote the scheme, seen as a possible way of addressing land reform in SA.

The farm equity share initiative allows farmers the option of selling their land through a share ownership scheme.

This enables farmworkers to buy a percentage of the farm, using money allocated by the government for land reform.

SA has set a target of handing over 30% of commercial farmland to blacks by 2014 but progress has been largely slow. The tardiness of the redistribution has in recent months led to sporadic land occupations, including in Wallmansthal, north of Pretoria.

Speaking yesterday after visiting a farm in the province where the equity scheme has been successfully rolled out, DA trade and industry spokesman Wilmot James said there was no doubt that equity share schemes were the most successful model of land reform on offer.

"These schemes give emerging farmers the support they need to make a success of their enterprise and help with reconciliation and nation building. It is unfortunate that the national government has not thrown its full weight behind these schemes," Mr James said.

The praise for such schemes comes after a moratorium on equity share schemes declared by Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti, lasted from June 2009 to March last year.

The g overnment resorted to such action when it emerged that most commercial white farmers were not training the new part-owners to manage the farms.

Mr James said the moratorium had a negative effect on the "goodwill of commercial farmers who wanted to empower their workers". He said that since the moratorium was lifted, there had been no clear indication that these schemes would be promoted by the government.

"I will today be submitting parliamentary questions to Nkwinti to determine what his department is doing to encourage the implementation of equity share scheme initiatives across all provinces," Mr James said.

Rural development and land reform spokesman Mtobeli Mxotwa said yesterday the department was promoting the scheme across the provinces because it believed it would go a long way to address the problem of land redistribution and reform.

"There is now a forum where workers . can channel their grievances . we have not received any complaints as yet, which means that the scheme is working," Mr Mxotwa said.

phakathib@bdfm.co.za