Agri SA implores the state to choose its words carefully

Agri SA has called on the ANC and government to demonstrate sensitivity amid the current climate of financial uncertainty.
Issue date : 07 November 2008

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It has asked government not to issue statements discouraging investment, but instead to be honest about poor decisions that have been detrimental to rural development, food production and sustainable land reform.
Johannes Möller, Agri SA president, was responding to a statement issued by the ruling alliance’s economic council recently in which the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle was rejected.

Möller also called for the transfer of water rights to developing farmers to be expedited, a moratorium on releasing state land for golf courses and game reserves, and for the reinstatement of control boards. “Agri SA’s experience is that the general public, but increasingly leader figures in government and ANCnc circles, have come to realise that government has gone too far neglecting commercial agriculture,” explained Möller. “Tthis is clearly seen in the deterioration of previously proud statutory agricultural institutions, a decline in agricultural production, unproductive utilisation of land by a large percentage of new beneficiaries, and consequently greater dependence on food imports.”

He said it’s regrettable that the statement by the ruling alliance takes no cognisance of the basic causes of the decline in agricultural production and is instead motivated by obsolete ideological concepts based on excessive government intervention as a solution to rural development and food production. Ggovernment seeks solutions to expedite land reform, but the state should also look at its own shortcomings in this regard,” said Möller “Various Agri SA affiliates have already entered into partnership arrangements with government to assist with land reform, but this can only succeed if it takes place within a policy dispensation that will ensure fairness to all parties, and sustainability.”

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With regards to the ruling alliance’s plan to make greater use of expropriation, Möller said sufficient land was available in the market to meet the needs of land reform.
“Expropriation should not be presented as a solution – it will in fact further delay the process and jeopardise trust, to the detriment of food production and general economic development,” he said. “An attempt should instead be made to address fraud, nepotism, incompetence, negligence and mismanagement within the Ddepartment of Lland Affairs. Tthe auditor-general recently found that the department was unable to account for Rr1,5 billion. Why fail to mention this in the statement?” he asked.

in addition Möller said he was concerned that divisions within the ANCnc and the forthcoming election could result in agriculture and agriculture-related issues being used as political footballs. “Ii call on leading political parties and their leaders to refrain from further politicising this sensitive economic and political sector,” he added. – Peter Mashala