TLU Speech 19 Sept 2018
STABILITY IN SOUTH AFRICA – FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE DAY ZERO!
By Dr. Pieter Mulder, former Member of Parliament and
Deputy Minister – Agriculture.
Is it alarmist to talk of Day Zero? Day Zero for food on the table? “Why so negative” declare some political commentators and media activists. It’s not the first time that agriculture in South Africa is in a crisis! There were plenty of times in the past where agriculture was beset with drought, diseases, pestilence and high prices. In the past agriculture always came up with unique solutions to these problems!
Why suddenly is everyone talking about Day Zero?
There is a very specific reason why people are talking about “Day Zero” in 2018. This crisis is different. This is not the usual old crisis of droughts, high prices and so forth.
We now sit with a very unstable government. We sit with leaders who threaten us. We are facing an election where the ruling ANC is worried that they may not obtain 50% of voter support from the electorate. Into this political maelstrom the agricultural sector and especially white farmers are swept up, dragged by the hair and used as a punching bag to score points in a political struggle for power over which this agricultural sector has no control.
2 HOW DID WE END UP IN THIS SITUATION?
Forgive me for reverting to the past.
After Europe’s granting of independence to its African colonies in the 1960’s and 1970’s, these new countries ended up with different tribes, languages and cultures thrown together within borders drawn by their colonial rulers. How do you unite these different groups into one nation, a question the African leaders and the groups themselves asked? The only unifying factor which these dissimilar peoples had in common was their struggles against their colonial masters – the British, the French and the Portuguese who had ruled them for years, sometimes centuries.
The easiest way to obtain independence was by way of unity and cooperation between the different groups – to whip up resentment and even hatred against their colonial masters. This really didn’t bother these European colonial powers too much because they could go back to the safety of Europe. Using the colonialists as scapegoats, and designating “nation building” as their modus operandi, these various African groups united temporarily under this concept.
2.1 NELSON MANDELA
Nelson Mandela realised that conflict could develop in South Africa. White and particularly Afrikaners would not disappear and they would still be in the country after 1994. He wrote:
“Historically there has always been a deep concern about the question of minority rights which frequently led to sudden and even violent discord. Today we have nearly three million Afrikaners who, after freedom, are not an oppressed people but who are a powerful minority of established citizens whose cooperation and positive disposition will be needed for the regeneration of the country.” (Rapport 27.0.01)
This outlines his clever outreach to Afrikaners after 1994 – among other things this included his visit to Mrs. Verwoerd and his wearing of the Springbok jersey during the Rugby World Cup match in 1995. However, Mandela’s followers gradually moved away from this approach and began to emulate the anti-colonial behaviour of other independent African states.
2.2 THABO MBEKI
With his speeches and statements, Thabo Mbeki took the first official step in this direction. He described South Africa as a land of two nations – a rich white nation and a poor black nation. This was a total over-simplification of the reality but his approach caused friction and division among groups in the country.
Mbeki referred to whites and Afrikaners as “settlers” and “colonialists of a special kind”. This approach is based on Lenin’s theory of colonialism and the exploitation of those colonised.
Thus whites and Afrikaners were classified as “outsiders”, “outsiders” who are only tolerated in Africa. In 2015 I wrote an article in Beeld on the ANC’s problems and their decreasing support. I titled the article “The Scapegoat Formula”.
2.3 THE SCAPEGOAT FORMULA.
In the article I asked “What will a ruling party do when its voters start turning against it because of its ineptitude and inability to govern successfully?”
The ANC has created a “scapegoat policy” industry. What then is “scapegoat policy”?
This is when a ruling party and its leaders blame others for all its mistakes and failures. As the mistakes, failures and derelictions increased, more and more blame was placed on whites, Afrikaners and commercial farmers. The heavier the pressure on the ANC, the greater use was made of scapegoat politics.
The problem with this train of thought is that it is not interested in reality or in a balanced debate on the issues. The creation of historical myths is part and parcel of scapegoat politics. An historical myth is where facts of the past are twisted so that problems of the present can be suitably explained.
2.4 JACOB ZUMA
In the Zuma era this formula further evolved. The more mistakes Zuma made, the more the whites, the Afrikaners and the farmers were blamed. Where Mbeki and some academics’ approaches were softer when reference was made to “colonials of a special kind”, Zuma was more blatant.
According to him all land was stolen by whites, once again an over-simplification of a very complicated past. In this regard he included all whites, Afrikaners and farmers as “outsiders” and actually declared them as justifiable targets.
In January 2015 Zuma argued that Africa experienced no conflict or problems before Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape in 1652. That his statement was historically incorrect did not appear to worry him or his followers. Van Riebeeck was mentioned here as clearly a symbol of and metaphor for all whites and Afrikaners.
2.5 JULIUS MALEMA
As an ANC youth leader Julius grew up on a diet of “whites” against “blacks”. He was only nine years old when Mandela was released from prison. He does not hesitate to crudely advance the Mbeki and Zuma themes. In November 2016 he declared the following about whites: “We are not calling for the slaughter of white people, at least for now”. He makes it clear that whites are visitors only and that as visitors they must conduct themselves as such.
2.6 POPULISM AND EXTREMISM
Every community has its extremists. Political extremists, be they from the left or the right, make extremist statements.
When is a society in a crisis? A society is in crisis when extremist viewpoints no longer belong to the fringes but when they move to the middle ground and then represent the majority standpoint. A study of Fidel Castro in Cuba, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe illustrates how this transpired so successfully.
Listening to the speeches made at Winnie Mandela’s funeral and during the recent hearings on land expropriation, it is clear that extremist viewpoints have now earned mainstream status in South Africa. These have moved from the political fringes to the political middle ground. Alarm bells should be ringing as a result of these developments.
Remember, Malema has not budged from his original viewpoints which means that the political spectrum has moved towards his left-wing extremist position.
3 PUBLIC HEARINGS ON EXPROPRIATION
I am here asked to speak about stability in South Africa as well as the factors contributing to Day Zero. Naturally poverty, unemployment and weak economic growth are some of the factors affecting stability in the country. If you listened to those who took part in the recent public hearings on expropriation, all that is necessary to solve these problems would be to change Article 25 of the constitution. Expropriation without Compensation (EWC) will, according to all these debate participants, solve all South Africa’s problems.
Many of the speeches during the hearings were blatantly hateful and vengeful towards whites. Because many political leaders have fed their supporters on a diet of hatred of whites, these supporters simply regurgitated these political messages back to their leaders.
If one listened carefully to these speakers, it is clear that most of them are looking for an easy way out of poverty. If anyone is given the choice of obtaining a farm or a piece of ground for nothing, why would he say “no”? Thus can these hearings be seen as a scientifically correct referendum on how land and farming activity is perceived, such as that described and acted upon by Ace Magashule of the Free State.
It suits the ANC to wrongfully conclude from the hearings that land and the need to farm is the priority of the majority of the ANC’s people.
Yet in a recent country-wide poll by the Institute of Race Relations it was found that black people declare job creation as their first priority. Job creation and better education were shown to be the first and second priorities of 64% of those polled. Fast-tracked land reform was shown to be tenth on the list of priorities with only 1% support. (Institute of Race Relations Free Facts No. 2/2018, (June), page.6.)
4 WHAT IS THE ANC UP TO, LAND REFORM OR POLITICS?
What is the ANC up to? Is it all about land reform or is it about holding on to political power at all costs?
Land reform and political power are both important to the ANC but I believe all the noise currently created is about next year’s election and especially about unity within the ANC. They need to maintain their coalition partners’ role within the organisation and to outwit the EFF in the election. Land and white farmers have unfortunately become the focus point in this fight.
With an eye on the upcoming election, party unity has become more important than a healthy economy and sound agricultural policies and principles.
5 MUDDLED LAND REFORM SPEECHES
Just as one thinks he can understand the ANC’s land reform policies, we move on to a new week and a new plan. Anyone who is not confused with regard to the government’s land reform policy or proposals is actually not well informed!! Herewith some of the plans put forward.
5.1 WILLING BUYER/SELLER
Originally the argument was that land was so expensive because farmers demanded unrealistic prices. On that basis it was declared that the willing buyer/willing seller approach should be changed. We have demonstrated in debates that this is not the problem.
It is rather the ANC’s weak administration and sloppy work processes which in fact have resulted in land being paid for twice. A simple example: After a successful land claim the state purchases a farm for example for R10 million. Up to 92% of the land claimants would rather take the cash than the farm, so the state must pay R10 million to the land claimants. The whole transaction costs R20 million. This expensive land is now in possession of the state. There are now more than 4 000 farms in this category.
5.2 THE VALUER GENERAL
To solve this problem of expensive land, the government created the post of Valuer General. This office has become a bottleneck where transactions sit for months. This situation further exacerbates and drags out the process.
5.3 THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN: 20% OF LAND AT DISTRICT LEVEL
It is prescribed in the ANC’s National Development Plan (p. 227) that land reform must be processed at district level where farmers and other interested parties must point out 20% of land where black farmers can be settled. The state and the farmers must make some financial contribution and, in exchange, commercial farmers will be protected from losing their land and gain black empowerment status. This should remove the uncertainty and mistrust that surrounds land reform and the related loss of investor confidence.
5.4 PROPOSAL 50/50
Then came the proposal for a 50/50 solution between the farmer and his workers.
5.5 LAND OWNERSHIP CEILINGS
Farmers’ properties are too large so a size ceiling must be imposed. Last month Minister Gwede Mantashe declared 12 000 hectare as a reasonable size! In many debates this suggestions was shown to be impractical. Compare for example the productive capacity of a Karoo farm with a farm in the Lowveld: this shows how unworkable this suggestion is.
5.6 ALL LAND OR ONLY WHITE LAND?
Is it about all of South Africa’s land or only about white farmers’ land?
After the Zulu king threw his toys out of the cot about his land, described as the Ingonyma Trust, he was the recipient of an immediate visit by President Ramaphosa. The president assured him that his land was not in any danger of expropriation. It is logical therefore to assume from this that expropriation without compensation will target white farmland only.
5.7 ONLY UNPRODUCTIVE LAND.
When a hue and cry went up about targeting only white farmers’ land, a conciliatory stance crept in and assurances were made that productive farmland would not be taken, only unproductive farmland.
5.8 URBAN LAND
After all of the above, various speeches moved to the subject of urban land where space should be made for large housing projects because of the immense urbanization that was taking place in South Africa.
5.9 LIST OF FARMS FOR TESTING IN THE COURTS.
After the ANC’s lekgotla at the end of July this year, the ANC announced that it had chosen 139 farms for expropriation without compensation for testing in the courts.
5.10 AFRIFORUM’S LIST
On 12 August when Afriforum revealed that it was in possession of a list of possible farms which the ANC and the Department of Agriculture were considering to expropriate without compensation, the department swiftly denied that such a process had ever been set in motion or that such a list existed.
5.11 RAMAPHOSA’S NOCTURNAL ANNOUNCEMENT
According to my sources, the ANC’s July lekgotla exposed serious anxietyabout the forthcoming election in 2019. Some panicky attendees argued that the speeches from the floor during the recent public hearings revealed that the ANC was losing the initiative with regard to the land question.
This resulted in President Ramapahosa – as ANC president – stating in a late night public TV communique that the ANC had decided to change the constitution so that land would be expropriated without compensation (EWC). This was a sudden, rash and radical proclamation.
”Sudden” because of the ANC’s fear that they would not do well in the election in nine months time and that the EFF should not be allowed to grab the initiative on this issue.
“Rash” because it drew a line under the Parliamentary committee’s investigation into EWC which had not yet been finalised.
“Radical” because it reflects what the ANC but also the president of the country are saying.
This clarifies why I say: “Anyone who is not confused about the government’s land reform policy and proposals is not well informed”.
6 WHY THE MUDDLED STATEMENTS?
There are plenty of reasons for this situation. My explanation, in an effort to make things simpler, is that there are two, actually three lines of thinking about land in the ANC.
The gravity of ANC discord was clear during the party’s 54th National Congress at the end of last year – December 2017. There was the Zuma faction against the Ramaphosa faction. These factions did not only differ over who was to be the next ANC leader – they also represented different trains of thought such as how poverty and land reform should be handled and solved.
6.1 THE ZUMA FACTION – INGRAINED SOCIALISTS
On the one hand are the socialists, whom Zuma supports. They believe nationalisation and expropriation without compensation is the solution.
6.2 THE RAMAPHOSA FACTION – THE ANC PRAGMATISTS
On the other side is the Ramaphosa faction whom Ramaphosa supports. They believe the National Development Plan and the Motlanthe proposals are the solution.
To further complicate the faction split, there is a third train of thought, the traditional thinkers.
6.3 THE TRADTIONAL FACTION – THE KINGS AND THE CHIEFS.
Kings and chieftains with communal land have no conception or understanding of private ownership or title deeds. Former president Zuma and some of his ministers come from this school of thinking. It is easy to see how this traditional view of land can easily fit in with the socialist and communist train of thought where all land must belong to the state.
Despite the fact that this type of socialism in Africa was tried and eventually found wanting, there are still strong factions within the ANC who want to travel along this path in South Africa.
Here I must mention Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister’s standpoint that wherever socialism was tried in the world, it failed. She said: ”The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.
6.4 WHICH GROUP WILL PREVAIL?
With an eye on the forthcoming election, the ANC chose Cyril Ramaphosa as its leader at its National Congress. But this very same congress accepted the Zuma faction’s socialistic policy standpoint – radical economic transformation and land expropriation without compensation!
Because we are faced with dealing with not one united ANC but with various factions within that party, it is difficult to predict precisely where the ANC is heading with expropriation without compensation.
If the Zuma faction seizes the upper hand in the land expropriation debate, Ramaphosa’s hope of economic growth and foreign investment will disappear. Then South Africa is without doubt on the path to a communist socialistic order where all ground will eventually belong to the state – similar to the failed strategies of Zimbabwe and Venezuela.
As far as food security is concerned, then it is definitely “Day Zero” for food on the table. This will become a reality.
Ramaphosa’s “new dawn” – the new sunrise for South Africa – will quickly become a sunset where he will spend the rest of his term floundering in the dark to pay South Africa’s debt without any economic growth worth mentioning, plus possibly further economic downgrading.
If the Ramaphosa faction gets the upper hand, he will try to expropriate on the one hand, and on the other hand try to balance this with economic growth, food security, job creation and foreign investment. If these goals can be “balanced”, only time will tell.
This is not my solution and it is certainly not the best solution – but it is the better road to take of the two options on the table. No one can presently say which of the two factions will prevail in the long term. Perhaps things will become clearer after the election when one faction will emerge from the poll stronger than the other.
7 STABILITY BAROMETER
In the meantime the risk of greater instability in South Africa grows. Some political commentators say I am not objective and am unnecessarily negative.
I reply to these commentators via an outside source which I use as reference. Let us look at stability in South Africa through the eyes of an objective organisation outside our country.
The FundforPeace is an international non-profit citizens’ research organisation which evaluates the stability of 178 nations every year and places them in order from positive to negative.
Twelve indicators are used to measure specific social, economic, safety and political circumstances in each land. Countries are then categorized from very stable to stable, with a special column where warnings are given about certain countries’ stability. In 2018 South Africa found itself in the column “elevated warning on stability”.
According to the index the four most stable countries are, in order, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark. The four most unstable countries are South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.
South Africa falls in the middle at number 85 of the 178 states. What is so tragic is that South Africa is classified as one of the 20 countries which has become most unstable over the past few years. Just seven countries had every year in the last five years become weaker and more unstable. South Africa is one of these seven countries together with countries like Syria, Yemen and Venezuela.
This international organisation confirms the importance of debating the country’s stability at congresses such as this one.
8 SOME SUGGESTIONG TO RESTORE STABILITY
It is in the interests of South Africa and especially the agricultural sector that policy certainty and stability must be restored as quickly as possible.
After the election of Mr. Ramaphosa, there followed a period of “Ramaforia” where it looked as if he would move in the right direction. Economic growth and job creation were two of the most important goals which Mr. Ramaphosa set out to attain.
At this point, agriculture is the one industry which has the potential to create jobs and help the economy to grow. This can only happen within a climate of policy security and stability.
The decision over expropriation without compensation was perhaps the crucial factor that highlighted the fact that the honeymoon was over. Considering the parlous state of the latest economic figures and the fact that we are in a technical recession, it is clear that the chance of a swift economic resurgence is slim.
Various factors have contributed to this economic crisis. The Minister of Finance and the politically correct commentators say the debate about land expropriation had nothing to do with this crisis. They are decidedly wrong.
What must we do?
8.1 RAMAPHOSA MUST TAKE THE LEAD
The government and especially president Ramaphosa must give strong and immediate leadership to South Africa in order that these problems be solved.
There was once a TV program where the audience would guess among three people who was the real Mr. Botha or the real Mr. Du Toit. The program ended with the presenter asking: “Will the real Mr. Botha please stand up?”
South Africa asks the same question: “Will the real Mr. Ramaphosa please stand up?”
Is the president a very rich capitalist who farms with game and cattle in his spare time?
Is he the confirmed socialist and fervent COSATU trade union man?
Is he the loyal ANC comrade who places ANC policy above all else?
How is it that both the SA Communist Party and the country’s business world were in conformity when it came to the election of Mr. Ramaphosa as president?
All of this conflicting backwards and forwards was possible because Mr. Ramaphosa has been, to date, all things to all people. This is why he became president. But he can’t get away with this stance for much longer. South Africa is in economic shambles. He must thus give leadership to the country. But whichever side he tries to pacify, he will inevitably anger and frustrate the other diverse groups who support him at present. But good leadership must overcome this dissension.
Naturally Ramaphosa wants to make a success of his presidency. The key to success is that he must set the economy on the right path, and this includes the agricultural sector. Presently South Africa pays R5 600 per second to meet the country’s debt. The economy must grow with incredible strength and speed in order that South Africa can extricate itself from this debt.
2.2 CAN RAMAPHOSA REGAIN CONTROL OF THE POWER THAT HAS BEEN LOST?
The question is whether Ramaphosa can regain control of the power and momentum that Zuma dissipated? In the last few months he has given impetus to this idea. He has rallied towards achieving this goal.
After the constitutional negotiations in the nineties Ramaphosa conveyed the following to the BBC about Mr. F.W. de Klerk: “In his speech of February 1990 he (de Klerk) thought that by unbanning the ANC, he would be able to control political events in our country. I don’t believe he knew that he was actually unleashing a force which he would find far, far beyond his own political imagination and control.”
With regard to expropriation, is Ramaphosa not today in precisely the same position as de Klerk? Has he unleashed a force that he will not be able to control?
The recent public hearings and Ramaphosa’s speeches created expectations that every poor person will become rich simply by receiving a piece of ground. Has he not let the horses out of the pen and now they cannot be corralled? Only time will tell.
Over the short term it seems as if Ramaphosa will win the 2019 election, after which he will try and get the economy back on track. But that will be too late. He must act now.
8.3 SECURITY OF AGRICULTURE MUST BE BASED ON FACTS AND NOT ON PROPAGANDA.
I have personal experience of how the Cabinet and government committees made decisions on agriculture. These were not along practical lines but were based on the ANC’s own propaganda and their own twisted perceptions.
It is yet another propaganda myth that the nationalisation of mines and the expropriation of land will solve South Africa’s poverty situation.
It is enlightening to compare the performance of the Zambian and Zimbabwe economies since 1994 which Dr. Roelf Botha revealed.
In the case of Zambia, where the government encouraged private property rights and established a free market reform program, the gross domestic product (GDP) tripled from 1994 to 2008 (in nominal US dollar terms).
In Zimbabwe where the policy of nationalisation was brought into being, the economy in the same period shrunk by more than half. During the period 1990 to 2008, unemployment increased from 20% to 80% while life expectancy decreased from 60 years to 34 years. These are the facts upon which decisions must be made with regard to food security.
We must also bear in mind the fact that Venezuela’s inflation had reached 41 800 percent per annum in July 2018, according to Professor Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University. Since the nationalisation policy which that country implemented, Venezuela went from the richest land in South America to the poorest in a few years.
8.4 WE MUST INFLUENCE AND CHANGE PUBLIC OPINION ON AGRICULTURE.
It has been too long that the politically correct media, opinion formers, the agricultural industry and the banks have remained silent about problems relating to agriculture. It is because of a fear of inciting upheavals and perhaps violence that they have said nothing. This also applies to certain prominent agricultural leaders. Here we can include significant examples of where they have remained silent on matters such as farm murders, or the emphasis on friendly relationships on farms, or the complex realities of the history of land in South Africa, and so forth.
This result of this silence is that the majority of South Africans have grown up on a hunger diet with regard to the realities of agriculture. This lack of knowledge is used ruthlessly by the Malema’s and other political activists who spew forth lies and horror stories about farmers and agriculture generally, and get away with it.
We must therefore take every opportunity to influence public opinion positively. Use opportunities to put your case to non-agricultural organisations, to the government and to parliament. Take on opportunities to debate. It is not always easy, but it goes into the public domain.
The twisted trains of thought of the Malema’s and their fellow travellers must be exposed. Their distorted historical “facts” about land, their fictional tales about agriculture and their propaganda about circumstances on farms must be shown up for the nonsense it is. Perhaps we don’t communicate enough in English to expose these target groups.
At the Department of Agriculture the minister, deputy minister, director general and senior personnel meet every Monday to discuss policy and other relevant matters. As Deputy Minister I assisted in organising that Mr. Louis Meintjes, president of TAU SA, could attend at least three of these meetings to address the attendees. I can attest to the fact that many prejudices were debunked: Mr. Meintjes came up with positive suggestions on how problems could be solved, not only to the advantage of farmers and the Department of Agriculture, but for South Africa itself.
8.5 WE HAVE A SHORTFALL OF SUCCESSFUL BLACK FARMERS
South Africa needs more successful black farmers who possess title deeds for their land.
In Africa more than 80% of farmers farm with land measuring two hectares or less. Thus most of these are subsistence farmers who can only produce for themselves and their families. Where there is ever-increasing urbanisation, food shortages also increase. Thirty five countries in sub-Saharan Africa have no food security and must import food.
Within a few years South Africa will reach an urbanised population of 70%. Will we eventually end up regressing to subsistence farming, or will we meet the urbanisation needs by freeing up urban land? Thus urban dwellers must as soon as possible obtain title deeds to the properties in which they currently live.
Mondi Makhanya, former editor of the Sunday Times summed this situation up as follows:
“We are wasting valuable time and energy trying to restore people to their peasant ways. Ordinary South Africans either do not want land or just do not have the capacity to work it. They want to go to cities and work in a modern economy……..
“Large-scale highly mechanised commercial farming is now the way of the world. You cannot turn the clock back four decades. That is just the reality. Furthermore, our young people would, as has happened elsewhere, have simply upped and headed for the towns and cities. Yet we continue to nurse the notion that we can reverse the inevitable march to an urban future. We keep wanting to fight the logic of large-scale commercial farming….
“The money and energy that is spent on getting peasants back to subsistence farming would be better used to create a class of black commercial farmers who actually do farm for commercial rather than sentimental reasons”. (Sunday Times 28.2.10, p.10)
8.6 NEGOTIATIONS AND DISCUSSIONS
Headlines in newspapers over the past few weeks have read: “Farmers dig in their heels and will not negotiate” and “Farmers are the reason for failed land reform because they will not come up with solutions”.
I was witness to various proposals and solutions which South Africa’s farmers presented to the government with regard to land and farming problems, including practical suggestions to solve these problems. Notwithstanding the fact that these solutions were received with friendliness, nothing further materialised with regard to taking action.
Negotiations with the government are important. If you just arrive with a smile and a clever plan in your briefcase at the negotiation table, you are in trouble. This is not enough.
On the many occasions I was in negotiations with the ANC, we were always courteously received and in most cases the ANC leaders reacted positively to our suggestions. But don’t let that fool you. We only met with real success when we had some sort of bargaining tool, something practical to put on the table. Nothing will happen unless something precise is presented. Plans and future objectives will not do the trick.
8.7 WITH WHAT CAN COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE BARGAIN?
I have received various answers when I ask this question.
Some say we can bargain with food security. This is an important card to play and it must be used. Mass hunger could be South Africa’s destiny. But – note that the effect of food insecurity in Zimbabwe only became a visible reality when the food shelves in the stores were empty.
Other agriculture leaders say we must bargain with the constitution. We have legal grounds on which to fight any policy which tampers with food security, with the best legal teams at our disposal.
The constitution contains many finely-worded clauses but it should be acknowledged how the University of the Free State learnt a lesson that the ANC holds the political power and the Constitutional Court’s recent judgment is proof of that. The ANC holds the trump cards as far as matters such as this are concerned. So what have you got to fall back on when this occurs?
I am asked about the question of bargaining within Parliament.
We did have successes – but also failures. The principle of property rights has for a long time been on the slippery slope after state control of property was further strengthened with the National Water legislation of 1998 which ended private water rights. In 2002 property owners’ mineral and petrol resources were also transferred to the ownership of the state by way of legislation.
On both these occasions the ANC used its numerical majority to steamroll these pieces of legislation through parliament. This can happen again.
Omri van Zyl, Agri SA’s executive director is correct when he says that if you don’t sit at the negotiation table, you are on the menu in your absence. But he is actually wrong if he dismisses the help of Afriforum or the VF Plus’s activities abroad to increase pressure on the ANC. (Business Times 2.9.18, p.8; Rapport Weekly 2.9.18, p.3)
I was overseas many times, also with TAU SA’s Henk vd Graaf where the plight of the South African commercial farmer was placed on the desk of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. We also informed other international organisations of this situation in South Africa.
If these visits and especially Afriforum’s visit to the United States of America resulted in President Donald Trump’s tweets then it was all worthwhile.
Why is this?
Because it is vital that the ANC government takes all the implications of its expropriation without compensation decisions into consideration before they rush to change the constitution.
Thus Max du Preez is wrong when he takes Afriforum and the SA Institute of Race Relations to task and says they will be responsible if the American president cancels the AGOA agreement. (Beeld 28.82018, P.7)
The American president is not going to cancel this agreement based on the words of Afriforum, myself or any other organisation. There are clear demands in the AGOA legislation which a country must abide by in order to reap the benefits of AGOA. One of these – Article 104 of the legislation – is the protection of private property.
Zimbabwe was thrown out of AGOA because of its policy decisions.
The government must very carefully consider the implication of this legislation. They must not afterwards complain that they didn’t know or understand the full implication of this American law.
The American AGOA legislation contains many benefits for South African exporters. Between 2000 and 2014 the value of South African exports to the USA quadrupled and South Africa can thank AGOA for almost 40% of these exports, according to the SA Department of Trade and Industry.
Foreign pressures and the threats involving AGOA are very important bargaining chips when negotiating with the ANC. To ignore this important trump card, as some agricultural leaders want to do because they are scared it might anger the government, will be a fatal error.
Before 1994 the ANC successfully placed the South African problems into the international arena. This led to relentless international pressure on the former South African government to move towards a constitutional settlement with the ANC. Thus any criticism from the ANC if we utilise the same methods by placing foreign pressure on them, is hypocritical and smacks of double standards.
8.8 NEGOTIATE FOR WHAT?
“We are willing to negotiate for our future, but not for our funeral”.
+ It makes sense to negotiate with the demand that many more black commercial farmers must receive title deeds.
+ It makes sense to negotiate on how farmers can help and mentor new black commercial farmers to ensure their success
This will create greater stability and agricultural security for the future. It will also assist in taking off the table the fractious question of land in the agricultural sector.
+ It is dangerous and a mistake to negotiate how expropriation without compensation should be implemented! By doing this you have already accepted that expropriation without compensation of your farm is a fait accompli. You are negotiating what will happen AFTER expropriation without compensation occurs.
It is like negotiating with the man who has already stolen your car whether you must take a taxi to your house because you don’t have a car anymore!
9 CONCLUSION – LESS BLAME AND MORE APPRECIATION
There is less blame and more appreciation needed for our commercial farmers.
The approximately 34 000 black and white commercial farmers produce around 95% of the country’s food. This group is less than 0.07% of the population yet they ensure that South Africa is one of the very few countries in Africa with food security. They are the biggest job creators for especially unskilled workers and they pay the salaries for more than 800 000 people. Agriculture and its ripple economy keep rural towns alive. At the same time agriculture earns valuable foreign exchange for South Africa.
The ANC and its spokesmen on stages and in the media will learn the hard way that changing the constitution and expropriation without compensation is not the easy way out of poverty. The only easy way out of poverty is to win the lottery. All the other paths take time and include job creation, investment, title deeds and hard work.
We are current involved in a life and death struggle for the future of South Africa. This is a fight between two different trains of thought, between more socialism on one side and the free market on the other. In the interest of South Africa we cannot lose this struggle. Negotiations and discussions must be on a win-win basis – but the struggle will only be won with prudent and firm plans, and resistance and pressure from within and outside South Africa. Friendliness and compromise alone will not work. It is not enough.
Remember Edmund Burke’s wise words: “All it needs for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing”.