A one-and-a-half hour discussion took almost two-and-a-half hours recently when ACDP member Leon Coetzee and ANC Ndlambe Municipal ex-mayor Sipho Tandani weighed in on land debate, all without finding common ground.
Coetzee agreed that the land reform was necessary but maintained farming required extensive knowledge, skills and mentoring. He said that giving the land to the people of colour without such considerations is a disaster in waiting for food security and the economy.
Coetzee further asserted that reviving the economy should take priority.
“From my personal perspective South Africa is already bankrupt and the reasons are many. After 1994 positions were given to people who did not have the necessary skills. Some land was also given to people who fought for democracy,” he said.
Shuping asked Coetzee to clarify what more skills were needed by the farm workers when they are the ones doing the production in farms. In response Coetzee said: “when you dip cattle you need to know the reason why you dip them in that particular season”.
Coetzee mentioned one local farm which was bought by a group of 14 families who did not have farming skills and, as a result, it failed. He added that some of those members were buying it for the wrong reasons, simply to buy votes. He further asserted that some of the farm-owners never set their feet on the farm adding that others died without ever having visited it. He went as far as to state that the government has failed to lead the South Africa, using the example of state owned enterprises to support his claims.
“The government has failed to lead the South Africa. Most of the departments are bankrupt. Sate owned enterprises always ask for bailout of millions and billions,” he said.
Coetzee added that the agricultural sector arguably employed many more people than other departments and therefore expropriating land without compensation would be a risk to those jobs.
In response the Ndlambe ex-mayor Sipho Tandani countered Coetzee’s claims outlining the processes put in place by the government to prevent any favouritism in the processes of restoring the land back.
“To start off there is no minister giving back the land. When the land is given there is a district level committee called the beneficiary selection committee and the minister is just part of that committee,” Tandani said.
Tandani went on to explain that the minister is also not involved in negotiations between willing buyer and willing seller. He further mentioned that after the two parties agreed and followed all the processes without the minister’s involvement they sign the cadastral form which is subsequently submitted to the selection beneficiary committee without the minister’s input. Tandani insisted that their committee is independent and consist of farmers. He added that the committee independently examined the business plan of an applicant so that food security is not negatively impacted. According to Tandani the minister only intervenes at a later stage.
“The minister at national level looks at the recommendations coming from both the district and provincial levels. There is no friend and extra motives the processes are just clean,” he said.
Tandani highlighting the fact that the government has already established the blended funding model and incubation processes which will assist emerging farmers with finance and skills.