The family farmer organisation Saai is shocked over and condemns the blatant racial discrimination in the Western Cape Provincial Government’s COVID-19 disaster assistance which will only be allocated to black farmers. This disaster assistance will be administrated by the Cape Agency for Sustainable Integrated Development in Rural Areas (CASIDRA) and Saai plans a multi-dimensional campaign to enforce non-racial principles on all levels of the civil service.
Such a campaign could include legal action, the collection of a million signatures, political pressure inside and outside of parliament, public questions, an awareness programme, as well as an overseas campaign.
The government’s irrational COVID-19 regulations – which paralysed the wine industry for 20 weeks, plunged hundreds of family farms into a financial crisis and left even more farm workers without a job and income – did not discriminate based on colour. Everyone had to suffer even if it was – as the court found in the case against the similar tobacco ban – completely unconstitutional.
CASIDRA and the Western Cape government (similar to the ANC with its BEE policy) are very vague about who is “black”. Most beneficiaries of land reform in the Western Cape are brown people of mixed origin. “For a court to set percentages of descent as a criterion and justify it ethically, morally and constitutionally, South Africa will once again be made a caricature in the international arena, and it is the duty of civic organisations to put a stop to this,” says dr Theo de Jager, Chairman of the Board of Saai.
Saai’s members are family farmers of all sizes, ages, races, language groups and levels of experience. In the interest of cooperation, unanimity and progress, there should be a commitment to a non-racial society. In such a society, the colour of a farmer’s skin, the composition of his genetic origin or his language and cultural heritage should not cause him or her to be compartmentalised into a first- or second-class citizenship.
Disasters such as COVID-19, droughts and fires don’t discriminate on the grounds of heritage or skin colour. It is unforgivable for government to do exactly that in its reaction on disasters.
Saai is continuously committed to pursue the constitutional foundation of non-racialism and to continue fighting for it on every possible level – regardless of who or which party is being impacted by it.