White farmers must change perceptions – Thabo Leshilo

White farmers have to take responsibility for educating the media on what they do, especially the black media, Agang’s head of communications Thabo Leshilo told the recent FSA Congress.

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“You must highlight the positives. Surely, the bad okes who drag their workers to death behind bakkies are not representative of the industry. “Why should such bad guys be the dominant image of white farmers?” asked Leshilo. He said the fact that black South Africans’ perceptions were discussed at an agricultural congress was a major step in the right direction. Leshilo said that before listening to FSA president Dan Kriek’s report back, he hadn’t known that white farmers valued the Constitution.

“I never thought white farmers used the words ‘progressive’ and ‘transformation’ in the same sentence. “Nor did I know that they condemned the 1913 Land Act and that they are open to new entrants into the industry,” said Leshilo. “We also did not know that white farmers are committed to deracialising the industry and thought that they are hell-bent on keeping people out and to hold on to the land.

“Can you imagine how much damage these perceptions have caused over the years? “If I hadn’t been invited to this congress, my perceptions would have remained the same. Of course the negative perceptions are wrong, but that is the reality. However, the other side of the coin is firmly hidden,” said Leshilo.

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