Does Pieter Mulder harm SA farmers’ public image?

The impact of having a deputy minister of agriculture representing a “rightwing political party” could have a detrimental effect on perceptions about commercial farmers.

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This was according to Prof Jonathan Jansen who spoke at the Nampo Senwes Future Focus panel discussion. Jansen said he was worried that “a ‘Pieter Mulder type’ of deputy minister can create the perception that all farmers are politically conservative and rightwing”. Political commentator, Max du Preez said Mulder was generally accepted as the representative of commercial farmers. “This is wrong. He was appointed by Zuma, not by farmers.

“If I were you, I would have told government in no uncertain terms that Mulder is not your spokesperson.” Du Preez said that he respected Mulder, who was a man of integrity. But Mulder was also the leader of a conservative Afrikaner-nationalist political party. “The ANC generally accepts that all farmers are of the same kin. Isn’t it time to ask how much it will benefit the industry if Mulder exits Cabinet so that farmers can have stronger and more honest communication with government?” he asked.

But Mulder said Du Preez had based his arguments on prejudices that no longer existed. Mulder said he acted as a go-between between the industry and government, who often did not understand what commercial agriculture was about. He said that in his position as deputy minister, he played an important role in taking the issue of race out of commercial agriculture. “The natural route for successful black farmers is to become commercial farmers. The fact that the issue of race has been taken out of the equation is of utmost importance for food security,” said Mulder.

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