“Should we listen to Derek Hanekom or to Gwede Mantashe?” asked Carl Opperman, CEO of Agri Wes-Cape regarding recent conflicting statements on land reform from the ANC.
Derek Hanekom, member of the National Executive Council and Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, recently assured commercial farmers that the current land reform targets and deadlines will be re-evaluated because they are unrealistic and farmers should not have to fear expropriation.
Hanekom said land reform will be conducted within the ambit of a free market. Gwede Mantashe, the secretary general, speaking at an alliance meeting made statements that were in stark contrast. He said the current situation where 87% of land still belongs to 50 000 white farmers 14 years after land reform was initiated in 1994, is untenable. said the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle isn’t working and must go. “Land reform can’t depend on the willingness of those who own to sell,” said Mantashe.
Opperman said current ANC agricultural policies have seen South Africa becoming a nett agricultural importer. Countless failed land-reform projects are the result of government being unwilling to listen to the advice of organised agriculture. He added that all this is happening in very volatile and uncertain times in the global economy. said the conflicting messages couldn’t have come at a worse time, as they scare off investment making it impossible for commercial farmers to produce food. Clem Sunter, chairperson of the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund said food production within the commercial sector is crucial, with global food security becoming an issue. reform in South Africa can’t be allowed to impact negatively on production. T urmoil within the ANC leadership is the cause of conflicting statements, said Dave Steward, the executive director of the FW de Klerk Foundation.
“The has been on a charm offensive recently. They say what they think a specific audience wants to hear.” he Polokwane conference was probably the most reliable source of ANC policy and Mantashe’s comments are a better reflection of the ANC’s stance. But the party also has a pragmatic approach and will slow things down or speed them up as conditions allow. The shelved Expropriation Bill is a case in point, said Steward, stressing the importance civil society in these matters. – Wouter Kriel