Saai launches digital farm nameboard project

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A nameboard on a pole at the gate of a family farm will never be the same again. Saai recently launched its farm nameboard project in which the latest technology is used to protect farms.

The ANC’s 2017 decision to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation left farmers deeply concerned. Four years on and this decision has not yet been carried through; yet investor uncertainty, the outflow of capital, credit rating downgrades and the collapse of the Landbank have followed the ANC’s populist land policy like muddy footprints on a polished farmhouse floor.

Farmers and other landowners did not sit by idly, watching from the side. Over the past two years, Saai spoke at three different events in Rome, Berlin and New York to explain the ANC’s senseless expropriation policy to the United Nations and European Union’s decisionmakers. Saai also liaises weekly with embassies and foreign agricultural unions to ensure that they grasp the agenda behind the policy.

Saai and its network partners also collected many thousands of rand for the epic battle in the courts, the outcome of which will most likely be decided internationally. The battle lines have been drawn. It will not be so easy to amend Section 25(3) of the Constitution.

Rather, a much greater threat to property rights are the informal, uncoordinated and uncontrolled landgrabs on ground level, trespassing, occupations, squatting and livestock that are driven into farmers’ farmlands and pastures. The red lights start to flicker especially when the police fails to do anything about it, the authorities turn a blind eye and the landowner has to face the confrontation alone.

This is exactly how it went down in Zimbabwe.

Saai is very concerned about the increased prevalence of  land occupation in the North West, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and the police’s inability or unwillingness to act against these. Apart from making a loud noise and continually focusing the international community’s attention on it, something definite must be done. We must try and prevent it in time and across a broad front. On the one hand, private institutions must take over the foundations of authorities that fail to protect property rights and make good where the state falls short. On the other hand, all rural landowners must ensure that their home and hearth protection in up to the best possible standard.

This is exactly why Saai has just launched its farm nameboard project. Apart from Saai as family farmer network feeling very strongly about a family name next to the farm’s name at a gate post, the network has also gone to trouble to harness the latest technology to not only safeguard farms physically, but also on policy level in terms of service delivery against illegal occupation. For this purpose, a trespass warning in various languages (of the farmer’s choice) and QR codes are displayed on each board. When these QR codes are activated with a smart phone or tablet, it gives the farmer access to a variety of functions. One example is complete legal advice drafted by lawyers to give direction to the landowner or any other interested party about what to do during a land occupation.

Another QR code gives you access to a complaint form that can be digitally drafted, completed and submitted. It also registers automatically with Saai, where our legal team will monitor it regularly to ensure that the police opens a case and do something about it. Saai also stores a copy of the complaint on the landowner’s behalf to build a case for future legal actions.

Any family farmer can order these nameboards from Saai’s website at www.saai.org.

Successful attempts to supplement deteriorating state functions and to curb unconstitutional offences require good coordination by large numbers of people who works towards this in unison. Saai and our network partners know from experience over the past two years that the individual, small attempts of large numbers of plain, peace-loving South Africans together give crucial impetus to have a national impact.

It is to this purpose that Saai wants to cooperate with its network partners in erecting as many of these lightweight but durable farm nameboards as possible across the country in a bid to curb trespassing, land occupation and squatting on farms. Saai has already established a remarkable network and legal team and believes that we would be able to react to these complaints efficiently and quickly.

Let us use the opportunities in the legal system to their full extent to protect property rights on a small scale on ground level in your area and on your farm, but also on a national level where policy makers and decision makers must be held responsible and accountable.