Will sanity prevail this year?

I don’t have any new resolutions for 2013, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t dream about a South Africa filled with love, light and laughter.

Can’t dream about a government that fully realises the potential of the country’s commercial farming sector and the extent of white farmers’ concern and support for their black counterparts. Can’t dream of fat cattle, green grain fields and goodwill among all, and – please don’t laugh – world peace.

Maybe I’ve had too much brandy-rich Christmas fruit cake, but I dream that people like Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary general Tony Ehrenreich change their tune about farmers.

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That Ehrenreich in particular stops spewing venom about commercial farmers and their perceived wealth and alleged poor treatment of workers. That’s rich, coming from a man who owns two houses in the province, according to newspaper reports.

Is the man incapable of understanding the economic damage prolonged strikes cause? Claiming SA’s farm workers work under ‘slave labour conditions’ is mean and nasty. Nee man, Tony, hoe’s dit dan met jou? Calling on our international markets to boycott SA agricultural products will harm your members just as much as the farmers, not to mention the rest of the country.

What are you going to do should the strikes you so passionately advocate result in large-scale mechanisation and the loss of thousands of job opportunities in agriculture? Is Cosatu going to take responsibility for those who find themselves out of work?

Will you make one of your houses available to the affected parties? Or are you and your band of war-mongering comrades going to take to the streets to try and prevent the inevitable job rationalisation on farms?

Ja Boet, you must watch out – this issue might very well backfire on the very people you claim to defend so passionately.

I’m not saying that the issue of farm workers shouldn’t be addressed as a matter of urgency, but this January 2013 strike is uncalled for, unnecessary and ill-advised. The longer organisations like Cosatu continue bringing threats of violence to the negotiating table, the longer it’ll take to find a solution.

Watch out, and heed Agri SA president Johannes Möller’s warning that labour-intensive farming industries might be moved to neighbouring countries, where the risk of labour unrest is lower.

What will you do then, Ehrenreich?

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.