This has been a busy week and an opportune time to report on Land Reform issues and progress.
There is a need for a broader perspective on our country and the challenges that we are facing at this time.
There is a greater and greater realisation that the jobless in this country pose a huge threat to our democracy. There are large sectors of our country that are relatively isolated from this reality, so it tends to get overlooked or dismissed.
You only have to wander around Sandton or the Western Cape and closer to home, the Tsitsikamma areas, to realise that people don’t really see a problem because where they live there may not be one.
There are starting to be sporadic incidents of violence and protests around the lack of jobs and if this would be to catch on, the government would never risk another Marikana type incident, so protection of property and their rights would go out of the window.
I stand by my assertion in that organised commercial agriculture were asked by the present government to come up with both a political, and a practical commercial solution to land reform, and over a three year period various brain storming sessions were held by Agri SA but none of the proposals found traction under their membership. This infuriated Nkwinti, who was then politically compromised and as a result of that we are getting the current commercially unworkable statements and pending legislation being thrown out there.
I have spent two days this week meeting with Prof Karaan and also attending a meeting in Pretoria on Friday where 12 of the country’s leading agricultural leaders were asked to come and give their input. Prof Karaan indicated that there is a chasm between government and commercial farmers and he feels rightfully aggrieved that he has gone out on a limb for the commercial farmers of this country and they have failed to support him.
Our farmers keep hiding behind:
1. The constitution
2. Free Market principles must apply.
The Zimbabwean farmers hid behind the Lancaster House agreement and when that lapsed they faced the full force of land grabs.
There is major pressure from government now for radical land reform and given the waning support the ANC are getting, we can expect more and more pronouncements leading up to the local and national elections that are going to cause major upsets to our world.
Commercial agriculture is guilty of not cooperating with government and we are going to pay for this.
In my view we have failed to build a trust relationship with government.
I had a very productive meeting with Chris van Dijk the new CEO of MPO and shared my concerns of the lack of transformation in the dairy industry and my view is that most of the farmers out there view this as business as usual.
We had a very good meeting and I am sure that we are going to see a change in approach from the leadership and hopefully a change of heart from the members as a whole. While there are some exceptional success stories out there the general body of farmer’s remain married to the status quo.
FUNDING AS A CRITICAL COMPONENT OF TRANSFORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT
We continue to lobby Land Bank on the funding aspects and also had meetings with Old Mutual in regard to an Agricultural Fund. I have also approached private fund managers to see what traction we can get in this regard. However, through all of this the cost of funding remains a problem.
The new CEO of Land Bank is showing a resolve to change the status quo and hopefully we can get some new product offerings that will assist us in our efforts to transforming the country.
We have been asked to put some test cases in front of Land Bank through their lending partners – e.g. Humansdorp Coop etc and see where this takes us.
STRENGTHENING RELATIVE RIGHTS OF FARM WORKERS
There have been pronouncements in the last week on the so called 50:50 which is actually “Strengthening relative rights”
There are about 19 pilot projects being rolled out in the country and Amadlelo has secured one of these and the Collett family have been coerced into agreeing to be one of the guinea pigs. There will be more on this once we have had correspondence from government confirming the acceptance of this in writing.
SO WHAT NOW
We are getting positive re-enforcement that the land issue is far from settled and farmers need to take cognisance of this in their planning and expansion plans. We are going to have to get used to farming on somebody else’s land and accepting partnerships and the issues that go with them.
What I said is now even more important in that we need to create wealth out of agricultural land and not in land.
Extensive farmers will need to do some in depth soul searching and look for creative ways to address landownership and returns.
For starters make sure your offshore pension plan is in place. Hugh Oxenham has been working on this and can be contacted at ACS on hugh@acsconsulting.co.za
I am looking at how to best brand transforming farmers in the country so that we can demonstrate success and overcome the challenges.
My challenge is that each and every one of you needs to start doing something no matter how small and demonstrate transformation.
To this end we encourage you to post your projects – past – present and future. This can include your ideas so as to give others an opportunity to follow suit.