Grants causing social decay and work problems

“Government grants are destroying our people in the Northern Cape,” Willem-Cobus Fourie from Groblershoop stated at the recent Cape congress in Kimberley.
Issue date : 12 September 2008

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“Government grants are destroying our people in the Northern Cape,” Willem-Cobus Fourie from Groblershoop stated at the recent Cape congress in Kimberley. “Although government meant well, these grants have only resulted in a host of social ills such as alcoholism, teenage pregnancies and absenteeism. We must find a sustainable solution, because the lack of a dedicated workforce is impacting negatively on the agricultural sector in our province, limiting expansion and causing farmers, as well as workers, to lose millions of rands.”

He added that the effects of the social grants could, in the long term, also impact on food security. T he delegates were unanimous in their decision to find a solution for the ever-increasing problem. Hendrick Ackerman from Richmond pointed out that grape farmers along the Orange River had lost as much as R20 million this year because the grapes couldn’t be picked in time, due to absenteeism. Meanwhile the workers had lost R8 million in wages.

“The moral decay in the Cape is grave,” said Ackerman. ”I know of instances where girls as young as 12 became pregnant in order to obtain grants. How can this be allowed to continue?” A representative of Dried Fruit Technical Services, Koos Baadjies, said it was highly unlikely that grants were being used for the reasons they were intended. “So it’s of the essence that a solution is found for this problem before it spirals totally out of control,” he said. “Such a solution should be sustainable and transparent and contribute to the continuation of food production in South Africa.

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Re-elected Agri Cape president Wessels van der Merwe went to great lengths to explain that the organisation wasn’t against a safety network for the people, but that the unintended consequences were alarming. “We’ve therefore decided to form a working group to urgently look into the problem and find a way to restore pride and moral values in agriculture,” he said. – Annelie Coleman

‘State should create investment climate’ – Van der Merwe

“It’s irrelevant to consumers whether products were produced by white or black farmers,” said the re-elected president of Agri Cape, Wessel van der Merwe. “The deciding factor is the availability of food. Authorities should therefore create a political climate and legislative framework to benefit all roleplayers in the sector, restore trust and create a climate for investment and thus ensure sustainable food production.” Delivering his president’s report at Agri Northern Cape’s annual congress in Kimberley, Van der Merwe said there was absolutely no investment in SA agriculture.

“Show me the Patrice Motsepes or Tokyo Sexwales investing in agriculture,” he said. “We, the farmers, are the only people remaining positive about agriculture. Potential investors are being put off by the fact that agriculture finds itself in such a negative legislative framework that controversial acts such as the Expropriation Bill could even be considered.” “It’s government’s duty to provide effective tariff protection against the dumping of highly subsidised products. All farmers are subject to international trends, markets and exchange rates.

 We compete against the rest of the world and tariff protection is critical to our ability to provide our own needs. long-term survival of the small stock industry in SA, for example, is totally dependent on protection against imports. And take note, it’s a question of protection, not subsidisation,” he stressed. V an der committed Cape to the successful establishment of new farmers in commercial agriculture. However, he warned that there should be no illusions that a percentage would fall by the wayside. “But we’ll be working with organisations such as the National African Farmers Union of to ensure a viable and sustainable farming community in the Northern Cape. We all have a common vision – to profitably provide for the country’s needs.” – Annelie Coleman

Court orders Telkom to fix Pampoenpoort line

Johan Van der Berg HAS won his Kimberley Supreme Court case against Telkom. He and 15 other farmers in the Victoria West district in the Northern took Telkom to court over the vital Pampoenpoort phone line that’s been out of order since September 2007. argument that persistent cable theft made it impossible for them to fix and maintain the line did not go down well with the court. elkom was ordered to get the line operational and keep it working according to the rental agreement between it and the farmers.

The court also ordered Telkom to provide the service that is stipulated in their telecommunications licence agreement. “My first reaction to the judgement was that it was what I’d expected,” Van der Berg said. “second reaction was one of sadness that a company of Telkom’s stature had to be ordered by a court to fulfil its licensee obligations. But I hope this judgement will pave the way for the hundreds of farmers in rural areas that have similar problems with Telkom to take immediate and decisive steps.” elkom was also ordered to pay Van der Berg’s legal costs. – Wouter Kriel

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.