TAU SA safety and security manager Chris van Zyl comments on the ire of commercial farmers resulting from recent statements made by the agriculture minister, and the discrimination farmers are subjected to.
There’s no doubt that the anger of commercial farmers has been fueled by recent statements made by land and agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana and several NGOs. The mere fact that Agri SA and TAU issued a joint statement in this regard shows to what extent a deteriorating situation is causing a closing of ranks within organised commercial agriculture. The response to this by nine independent ’agricultural organisations’ (Nkuzi Development Association, Association for Rural Advancement, Association for Community and Land Access Movement of SA, Surplus People’s Project, Action Committee, Southern Cape Land Committee, Free State Development Association, and the Rural Legal Trust) in support of the minister could have been predicted as she obviously found herself in a tight spot.
The public and joint reaction by these organisations in support of the minister’s Christmas message raises crucial questions. Who else other than the two major organisations representing SA’s commercial farmers makes a contribution to putting food on tables? What have the contributions been from other ’agricultural organisations’ to contribute to acceptable solutions for SA’s threatened food producing capacity? Why are commercial farmers singled out for ruthless and unfounded damnation regarding the lack or standard of housing facilities and services for their employees when it is clear that employers in other sectors of the economy are exempt from such requirements and criticism? Why is it that farmers are expected to share their private properties with the next of kin of previous or deceased employees when no expectation exists elsewhere? With slight hesitation, the question may also be posed as to how nine independent agricultural organisations from all corners of suddenly rise in unison to support the minister? Who is behind them? Could it be Comrade Blade?
Based on contributions of callers in a recent radio discussion on SAfm, it’s clear that the battle lines are drawn along racial lines and this is bad news. One can only shudder at the thought of what is being carried on the airways of radio services which cannot be regularly monitored.
Farmers, their business practices, their properties, their safety and their way of life have become the targets of subtle (and not so subtle) wordplay, intimidating tactics and the full spectrum crime which contributes to creating a climate in rural areas which is reason for serious concern. The recent violent outburst of emotions and anger near Melmoth, KZN, is a sad but honest reflection of reality.
The question must be asked how these developments are impacting on nation building? With 2010 around the corner and being in sharp focus in the international arena, it must be expected that the interest of the world could be drawn away from the soccer stadiums to the ugly face of a nation divided. Then the comparisons with Zimbabwe and the sorry state of that county’s health and wellbeing do not seem to be so far fetched as we are led to believe. |fw