Agricultural union TLU SA released a statement saying it was deeply concerned after the release of the long-awaited report on land reform last weekend.
“The government and Mr Ramaphosa are allowing themselves to be led around by their noses by the masses without considering the long-term impact it will have on South Africa,” said Mr Louis Meintjes, the president of TLU SA. “The masses are adamant about an immediate solution about something for which there are no quick solutions.
“South Africa does not have the ability or capacity to implement the suggestions made by the land panel. But the expectation was created, and now the recommendations have to be enforced to satisfy the masses. Even though it will harm all South Africans and not just farmers and their workers,” Meintjes said.
The agricultural community had already objected to how the report was compiled after farmers were left out of the process. TLU SA said the input of farmer Nick Serfontein and chair of AgriSA, Dan Kriek – the only representatives of agriculture on the panel – was ignored in such a way they had to compile a minority report. TLU SA, representing commercial farmers, was not asked for any comments.
“Who speaks on behalf of the farmers who had no representation on the panel?” Meintjes asked. “TLU SA has always seen economic principles as a priority in any discussion concerning transformation as the basis of successful farming.
“This process was not economically driven and will lead to a state-controlled environment where the initiative of entrepreneurs and investors is suffocated,” he said. “The members of the panel worked towards a specific outcome to support personal relationships and opinions.”
TLA SA said the suggested process around the selection and choice of land recipients was also suspect and part of the ANC government’s desired outcome of total state control, specifically control of the production and distribution of food.
“It is nothing less than the legal hijacking of land by the ANC-elite,” said Meintjes. “Why else the suggestion to regulate where to plant products along with proposed taxation of farms where the farmers are already under pressure to keep their heads above water?”
The report focused mainly on farms for expropriation, while 67% of the South African population is urbanised and their needs for housing and services are more urgent, TLU SA said.
Commercial producers have to provide for the needs of city residents, TLU reminded.
“The majority – almost 95% – of farms already signed over to the state failed and are non-productive. The chances of farms expropriated without compensation succeeding, are slim. How will South Africa meet the food needs of more than 50 million people?” TLU said.
“The complicated problem of poverty – seated in an uneducated working class as a result of poor schooling and lacking skills development – will not be solved by handing out the land,” said Meintjes. “Rather work on creating a real climate for economic prosperity. The process will only succeed if we follow economic principles instead of race-based politics.
“When the land has been redistributed, what happens then, Mr Ramaphosa?”
TLU said real solutions should be focused on producing maximum yield with the lowest input.
“The irresponsibility around this report will have an impact on all property owners,” said Meintjes. “We are calling on any law practitioners concerned about the future of South Africa to contact TLU SA. We have already made provision in the form of a trust fund to support farmers whose land is expropriated without their consent and below market-related prices.
“A responsible government will not choose a Sunday to release a report with the potential to ruin South Africa. Responsible people will be in church on Sunday praying for the country,” said Meintjes.