“The ANC government has looked at commercial agriculture through the prism of social welfare,” said Prof Dirk Kotzé, head of the Department of Political Science at Unisa and speaker at the Free State Agriculture congress in Bloemfontein. “There are indications that this is changing and that the ANC is starting to look at agriculture from an economic point of view,” said Prof Kotzé. “It’s unfortunate that it’s happening during this time of the so-called caretaker government.
Important issues will be put on hold because of a lack of will to take decisions until the new leadership is in power.” K otzé said he hardly expects a shift to the left in the ruling party, especially in light of the Zuma faction taking over, but some changes can be expected in the regrouping of the ANC government during the next year. It’s highly unlikely, though, that any policy changes will happen. H e said the ANC sees poverty as a rural phenomenon, with urban poverty flowing from rural poverty. This is illustrated by the fact that 95% of all ANC statements about agriculture so far have focused on land reform. But this has recently started to change – indicating a change in government’s perceptions about the role of agriculture in the SA context.
The food crisis and food security have given renewed importance to the agricultural industry, according to Kotzé. “The ANC and its alliances increasingly recognise the strategic importance of food security. This will force the ANC to reconsider its policy on land reform and agriculture in general,” he said. “Commercial farmers should begin regrouping themselves on a regional basis with regard to food production and food security.
Serious consideration should also be given to the creation of integrated networks of food production in Southern Africa, as this will strengthen the strategic importance of agriculture significantly and provide the sector with a strong economic bargaining power base.” otzé is confident the current agriculture minister won’t keep her position in the new dispensation. “Her deputy and DG won’t be in power any more either. The problem is that I don’t know who will replace them. The only likely candidate on the National Executive Committee’s list is Derek Hanekom but nobody wants him.” – Annelie Coleman