By Dr Theo de Jager
If the experience in Zimbabwe, disastrous downward credit ratings and damning court judgments on incompetence and corruption have not adequately discredited the ANC’s commitment to expropriation without compensation, then the flagrant announcement that farms are being donated to MK veterans will cause the world to realise just how dangerous the land expropriation agenda is.
Several successful black farmers in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga to whom farms had been allocated by the state as “lessees” and “supervisors” in the redistribution programme, have been summarily kicked off their land for it to be given to politically connected individuals. Saai is acting for a number of them and has found that the land affairs department, when facing legal action, simply gives the victims new farms on which other beneficiaries have already been established. Every time the problem simply is shifted to another victim.
Gross nepotism and cadre favouritism that cause comprehensive disruption of families on farms have already been reported worldwide in the news. Saai is concerned that the said department really has no idea of what is happening on the state farms, that their administration really is so chaotic that they do not have access to their own records, and that they really are under the impression that on 700 state farms there is nobody towards whom the state has a contractual responsibility.
In the Eastern Cape, Vuyani Sigana was kicked off his farm after nine years to make way for an affluent ANC cadre whose businesses and several other farms are already benefitting from government programmes. Vuyani’s cattle have to find grazing on road shoulders while he is waiting to be allocated to another farm. The dairy farm of one of Vuyani’s neighbours is going under because out of the blue an individual with an ANC membership card has taken over his farm with the blessing of the department.
In Mpumalanga, the tenure of 39 black farmers was terminated to make way for ANC cadres. Little time for evacuation is granted, and no alternatives are offered. Black farmers who, with virtually no assistance from the government, have developed their farming enterprises and the state farms with the expectation that they would be given a longer lease contract, are left on the street.
The debacle about Ivan Cloete, who was kicked off his farm in the Western Cape for a third time to make way for a former ANC member of parliament, caused wide repercussions locally and abroad. In talks Saai has since had with embassies and in digital meetings with foreign agricultural unions and project groups there is great concern about the blatant bullying tactics used by the ANC towards emerging farmers, simply for the benefit of people from the party-political inner circle.
When, following the state of the nation debate in parliament, Tina Joemat-Pettersson blatantly announced that MK veterans would receive expropriated farms because the ANC had not adequately compensated them, shock and disbelief echoed around the world. It is not only about suspicion concerning the register of MK veterans, who obviously are getting younger every month, or about scepticism regarding the records of compensation they have been receiving for the past six decades. It is not only about a world of investors and trading partners who got the shock of their lives from the language usage and content that are so exactly cast in the Zimbabwean mould. It is about a country that has been robbed of everything by this very class of beneficiaries in cadre deployment, state capture, plundering of national assets, corruption, nepotism and fraud.
We are not dealing with poor people here. All those “veterans” who have received the farms of hard-working black farmers, already have a variety of other farms and businesses. It is not a new class of successful black farmers being created here, but simply yet another feeding place for the same old gang of trough feeders who have plunged South Africa into its current woeful situation.
There is no transparent selection process for them.
They are not farmers, neither do they have the ambition to take up farming; on the contrary, this class of emerging farmers are left destitute, vulnerable and despondent by these “veterans”.
The rotten agenda behind expropriation without compensation became clear even in the very first trial run in Limpopo. The Akkerland farm was expropriated under the banner of “land claims” to enable well-connected cadres to gain material benefits from a huge Chinese industrial development. A small group of organisations, including AfriForum – Solidarity, Agri-Limpopo’s previous executive and TLU SA – revealed this injustice, reversed the expropriation and obtained cost orders against the minister, the land claims commissioner and the registrar of deeds.
Notwithstanding comprehensive media coverage of the shameless offences by its cadres, and its actuality in international political debates, the ANC continues putting the blame for the failure of land reform on the principle of willing seller, exorbitant farm prices, apartheid, colonialism and, last but not least, the farmers. It is no different from Jacob Zuma or Ace Magashule blaming the courts, the judges, white monopoly capital or apartheid for their involvement in state capture.
However, the world is more informed and intelligent than that. It is up to us to ensure that the same may be said of voters in the deep rural areas.
Dr. Theo de Jager is board chairman of Saai.