Frustration is mounting over government’s inability to deal with the land reform process and time is running out for the current government to implement practical solutions.
Speaking at Agri SA’s annual congress, Dr Theo de Jager, deputy president of Agri SA, said that South Africa faces the same lack of planning that Zimbabwe agriculture is dealing with.
“We’re experiencing an incapability problem in government and the lower down you move in the ranks the worse the incapacity gets. How can we expect to find solutions to our problems among these people?”
Dr De Jager said there may not be enough time to reach a consensus on the land reform process before the next ANC elections, where new leaders will be chosen. He said politicians would rather ensure they’re re-elected than do the right thing.
“This issue surrounding land is going to give farmers a beating. We’ll pay the price for the expectation that government has created amongst the landless in South Africa,” he warned. “We must decide on a plan of action to deal with land reform.”
“The first option we have is confrontational. If we want to stop agriculture in SA we can. Our network of farmers is extensive enough that we can shut down this country in a day. We can polarise the country further and increase racial tension.
“The other option is constructive collaboration and negotiation. We can work to create a non-racial environment and make ourselves as farmers indispensable. The only question is: can we win? People only fight battles they know they can win. If they can’t, then they will find another environment in which they can.”
He noted that land restitution is not about black ownership, but about politics. “It has little to do with the amount of black faces in agriculture and more to do with who those faces are and what political group they belong to.”
He concluded that transformation will never happen fast enough to satisfy government and the land-hungry masses. “At the same time it is happening too fast for the farmers who presently have land.” – Lindi van Rooyen