Mantashe’s point of view a setback for agricultural development

If transformation has to be interpreted as cadre deployment like Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, directed, Saai, as South Africa’s network for family farmers, is not in favour of this. The agricultural sector is groaning under inefficient service delivery and the destruction of infrastructure and jobs caused under the banner of “transformation” by corrupt, racially charged but incompetent ANC cadres in positions of power.

Just as apartheid became a collective word for all that was wrong in a previous dispensation, the ANC, through cadre deployment, made transformation an overarching word for state capture, corruption, incompetence, nepotism and decay in both the state and private sectors.

The first part of the Zondo Commission Report highlights the connection between cadre deployment (Mantashe’s “transformation”), state capture and decay.

Farmers are under immense pressure to pick up the bill for the transformation of the sector at great risk and cost. Apart from the fact that Saai does not believe that individual farmers and businesses should bear the cost of a national responsibility on the basis of a race-based criteria, the implementation of the ANC’s cadre deployment policy has underlined a clear criminal tone, which is at the heart of the Zondo findings.

Saai serves the interests of family farmers of all sizes, races, genders and producer lines and Mantashe’s view of transformation poses an existential threat to small and medium sized farms. The implication of its premise that only cadre deployment represents meaningful transformation is that all black economic empowerment in agriculture and the partnership model for agricultural development as described in Chapter 6 of the National Development Plan must involve ANC-approved cadres.

In the first part of his report, Judge Zondo already points out how corrupt cadres form the basis for the collapse of state functions and even the privatised service delivery. Mantashe, in his statement, made no attempt to point out where the honest, honourable or effective frameworks for transformation appointments can be sought.

It also explains why the state never invested in the Chapter 6 model for land reform through a proper budget, it was not enough for them that white farmers enter into partnerships with black farmers or black workers, because they specifically want ANC cadres to benefit.

Saai has a proud track record of agricultural training and development from which thousands of black farmers suffering from state neglect, benefit. Saai works actively among all levels of black controlled farming, communal, suburban, small-scale, commercial and land reform farming.

In 2020/2021, Saai provided disaster relief and food parcels to thousands of black farmers at all levels when the state failed to do so and when state resources earmarked for this purpose were stolen or wasted.

Saai is intensively involved with Agri All Africa, AfriForum and Pioneer Seeds in the commercialisation and modernisation of the farming activities of the Barolong Boo Seleka community in the eastern Free State and advises, through our members, a large number of communal communities that farm.

Saai also fought with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on behalf of beneficiaries of the state’s redistribution program in Transkei, Mpumalanga, Western Cape and Limpopo when they were illegally kicked off their farms in favour of deployed cadres and tenderpreneurs and some of these cases are still in a litigation process.

Saai is currently helping such a beneficiary in Limpopo to buy the land he rents from the state on an uncertain basis so that he can invest in the farm without fear of eviction.

At Saai we likely have more success with agricultural development and active assistance to black farmers in an effort to create a class of profitable black farmers than the ANC can show, even if we have to do the state’s work without the state’s income. Rand for rand, Saai is probably more than a thousand times more efficient.

But if Mantashe’s definition of transformation as cadre deployment applies, Saai is unwilling to give its cooperation.