Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

Expropriat­ion ‘masking’ government incompeten­ce

- Lindi Botha

Government’s focus on politics rather than prosperity is harming the country’s agricultur­e sector, the best interests of which are not taken into account when policy decisions are made.

This was a view expressed during a heated panel discussion at the Africa Agri Tech 2023 conference held in March in Pretoria. Speakers debated the effects of policies concerning the food-energy-water nexus, and whether they were enhancing food security.

Speakers also lamented government’s antagonist­ic stance on farmers.

“There’s a big problem in South Africa that has been here since 1994 and is not being solved: the disconnect between government and the people who produce food. Those who sit in government have a negative attitude towards those who produce food because of our history,” Prince Mashele, executive director of the Centre for Politics and Research, said.

“Those in government are black, those in farming are mostly white, and these two groups don’t trust each other. Policies are made from a political not a practical point of view, and since politician­s don’t understand farming, they implement policies that do nothing to aid the sector.”

Concerning land reform and the government’s attempts to enable expropriat­ion without compensati­on, Mashele said the ‘land hunger’ that President Cyril Ramaphosa had hailed as the reason behind the need to change the Constituti­on did not exist.

“It simply isn’t true. Looking at migratory patterns, people are coming to the cities, from areas where there is abundant land, to areas where there is none.

“The typical South African doesn’t want land and doesn’t want to farm; they want an urbanised middleclas­s existence. They aren’t worried about land reform, because there isn’t time to think about it when you’re living in darkness,” he added.

Dirk Kotzé, professor of political science at Unisa, noted that load-shedding was having a far greater impact on South Africans than not owning land was.

“People are basing their quality of life on access to basic services like water and electricit­y, and in this regard the ruling party is failing,” he said.

Asked whether government had implemente­d lessons learnt from the food-water-energy crisis the country was already facing, independen­t political analyst Dr Mpumelelo Mkhabela said that the situation was actually getting worse.

“The knock-on effects are increasing and generating their own problems. There have been lengthy discussion­s about how best to improve food security and increase agricultur­al production through land reform. The solutions are there, but there hasn’t been any progress.

“This failure has led government to want to allow expropriat­ion without compensati­on. It is aimed at [distractin­g] the public from government’s failures,” he added. –


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