Open letter to President Zuma

Dear Mr Zuma: This is Annelie from the Free State. I’m writing on behalf of myself and all the farmers I deal with. In this, your last election year, I want to ask you a few favours.

Mr Zuma, please be so kind as to give us a minister of agriculture with common sense and no political baggage. Who thinks straight, is honest and works from a basis of integrity. And who is wise enough to keep our beloved Oom Salam Abraham, that wise old man of SA agriculture, close by their side.

The country deserves the best possible agriculture minister. One committed to the people of South Africa – all of them.

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Ag please Mr Zuma, if you want to ensure food security for the very people who support your party, you’ll have to review the government’s stance on commercial agriculture and land reform.

Do you even know that the commercial farmers in the country that you govern are more than willing to play a key role in the sustainable establishment of black farmers?

I find it strange that after 20 years of democracy, many of your government functionaries are still blinded by old prejudices and simply will not entertain the thought of engaging commercial farmers in a constructive manner to ensure long-term sustainable and profitable land reform.

Have your people told you about the sterling recapitalisation work done by Grain SA on behalf of your government structures in the Free State and North West? And has anyone told you about the North West’s provincial government’s about-turn and obstructionist attitude towards Grain SA? It simply does not make sense, Mr Zuma.

I imagine it would be a mammoth task to sort out the general inefficiency of state departments, on both national and provincial levels. But can’t your government at least admit the problem and begin working towards a solution?

Imagine yourself sitting peacefully in Nkandla after your retirement without water for a week or so… How on earth are you going to top up the swimming pool?

It is a dream of mine to be able to sit down and talk to you ‘man to man’, or in my case, ‘man to woman’. Not as a journalist, but simply as a South African citizen. There are so many things I want to ask you – such as your opinion on the gravity of farm attacks and murders, the importance of home-grown food in ensuring food security…

But most of all, I want to tell you that SA farmers are committed to a peaceful and prosperous country with ample and affordable food for everybody. If ever you have the time for a quick coffee, don’t hesitate to call.


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.