Open letter to Gwede Mantashe

I attended the National Wool Grower’s Association (NWGA) congress in May, where you were one of the speakers.

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I would like to disagree with your statement that the black man’s relationship to the land was killed by the Native Land Act of 1913. If you are really a farmer at heart, nothing would kill your relationship to the land that you love. The real issue for black farmers, as well as the rest of the farming community, is the lack of understanding of our problems by the bureaucracy. Communal farmers also don’t own the farms they are working; it stays in the name of the state.

You acknowledged that the youth are plain lazy and see agricultural work as “sub-class”. This must be rectified if we want to maintain food security. It was reassuring that you rate the importance of the agricultural colleges high. But I want to reiterate that youngsters should not be persuaded into these colleges with promises – only help those who really have a passion for farming.

You mentioned government projects to make the point that SA is not a failed state. I agree we haven’t failed yet, but the red flags are up! Of all the projects you’ve mentioned only two are underway, the rest haven’t started. If we keep using apartheid as an excuse for poor performance, the mediocre and lazy will continue using it as an excuse.

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