Agri-labour unrest – enough fighting talking!

Cheap politicking is a terrible thing. Cheap politicking coupled with ineptitude is even worse.

I was left flabbergasted by the Western Cape ANC leader and deputy minister of international relations and co-operation Marius Fransman’s views on the agricultural labour unrest in that province.

In a debate with Agri SA’s Anton Rabe on SABC’s Monitor radio news show, he claimed, among other things, that farm workers are kept in perpetual debt by farmers running shops on their farms and selling the goods at inflated
prices. Fransman also held farmers responsible for the high prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome in the province. He ascribed it to the ‘dop system’.

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He apparently forgot that the system was phased out many, many years ago, and even interviewer Cobus Bester sounded dumbfounded by this hogwash. Bester tried to correct Fransman on this, but to no avail. Fransman just carried on regardless. These arguments smack of poor judgement and ineptitude, in my opinion. Maybe there’s even a bit of malice. And there’s most certainly ignorance!

Fransman, the problem is much more complex than you think. It would be naïve not to acknowledge that there are problems on some farms. But to pronounce in public that the “boere sal k*k”, as was reported in the weekend papers, is rabble rousing that does no one any good. In fact, if the reports are true and you did say that, it makes you part of the problem.

I wonder to what extent your comment (if true) has contributed to the vandalism and lawlessness that have resulted in wanton destruction and loss of life?

This brings me to protest leader Pastor Nosey Pieterse, who reportedly said tyre burning is simply part of ‘protest psychology’. Huh? Does he think that the gratuitous damage to farmers’ property is merely part of this ‘psychology’ too?
If so, it’s a damned expensive ‘session’, likely to cost millions of rands. And then Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary general Tony Ehrenreich also alleged decided to add fuel to the fire, with reports claiming he said farmers must be “moered” in the right direction. Wonderful.

Such nice people, who clearly want solutions, peace, not violence and endless chaos leading to greater unemployment! Yeah right. We can’t continue with this childish ‘fighting talk’. What South Africa needs right now is leaders with vision – people with principles who maintain the moral high ground.

The current protest leadership is seemingly riding a wave of self-entitlement without any respect for the law. The political opportunism in the face of the dire circumstances in the Western Cape is alarming. If this is allowed to continue unabated by the government agriculture will in all probability follow the same path as the mining industry.

The massive mining strike action resulted in thousands of job losses, deaths and immense financial damage. Watch out that the same thing doesn’t happen in agriculture.

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.