A lot of people are still very upset by De Jager’s claim that he can’t, in good faith, advise farmers to invest in agriculture given the current land reform policies. He apparently said this to the minister of land reform, Gugile Nkwinti. While you can understand that someone like De Jager can get extremely frustrated in his dealings with government – especially when it comes to land reform – remarks such as this… Eish!
As a high-profile leader he should have been much more careful. I have it on good authority that the reaction to his comments was so strong De Jager was advised not to attend a recent congress of one of Agri SA’s provincial affiliations.
Undercurrents such as these can cause untold harm to any organisation.
And there’s always an element of disgruntlement in any organisation. But when members and leaders start skinnering about it in public, that’s not good. That’s going to undermine the organisation’s standing – and, yes, even integrity – worse than any criticism from an external source.
And SA agriculture simply can’t afford any public dissent in the ranks. Discussion and debate, yes, but not dissent.
Certain things should be kept ‘in the family’. That’s where you bicker and fight, and express doubts – behind closed doors. But when you emerge you have to stand together! This is not about being ‘underhand’ or ‘secretive’. This how policies are hammered out. Think of how it is in a family. Your brother or sister might drive you up the wall sometimes, but let a stranger say something bad about them, or try to do them harm, and you’re there for them. Am I right?
To paraphrase political analyst Max du Preez: SA’s agriculture sector must at all costs avoid being seen by the public (and government) as having a ‘laager mentality’ and position itself as part of the solution, not the problem.
And one of the ways to achieve this is to present a united front with a clear vision.