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LREAD PERSPECTIVE

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Talking is better than fighting

Why is talking better than fighting?  I used Google and came across the following insightful quote: “Discussions are always better than arguments, because an argument is always about who is right, and a discussion is to find out what is right”. This quote holds much truth for our land reform journey in South Africa.

We seem to spend a lot of energy on framing role players as being on the right side or the wrong side in terms of historical; cultural, and current economic realities. In this context land reform becomes a stick with which some must receive a beating to compensate for those who have been wronged. Land reform is a fight, and therefor there will be winners and losers.

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Cyril Ramaphosa

Earlier in June I travelled to the Koue Bokkeveld to an event where Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, was the guest speaker. True to the area’s name, it was a bitterly cold evening, with outside temperatures dropping to 5 Degrees Celsius on the Gydo pass, on route to the venue!

The event was hosted by the Witzenberg Partnerships in Agri Land Solutions (PALS). PALS is a private sector initiate which coordinates and supports transformation projects in the Witzenberg Area. The Initiative was launched two years ago when the commercial agricultural sector decided to act on the need for rapid transformation in land ownership in the Witzenberg area. Members finance a permanently staffed office in Ceres from where all projects are coordinated. The LREAD has a good working relationship with PALS and thus my attendance to the event was granted.

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Sharing is caring

The Nampo agricultural show, which took place in May in Bothaville, is one of the highlights on the South African agricultural calendar. First time attendees are always blown away by the scale of this event. The show attracted 78 648 visitors and 700 exhibitors this year.  It is also the place to come up close with the latest in farming technology. This year saw Senzeni Zokwana, South African Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, posing on the world’s largest standard production tractor, the Fendt 1000 Vario, muscling an impressive 517 horse power.

Minister Zokwana also took part in a series of panel discussions on land reform, hosted by Nation in Conversation. Zokwana said the ANC, during its National Policy Conference in June, should be mindful of the relationships between food security; the commercial sectors sustainability, and access to land for new black farmers.

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Counting Transformation. April 2017 saw the appointment of a Service Provider by the LREAD to establish a Baseline of black land ownership for Western Cape. The need for such a baseline has already been voiced in 2014 during the Provincial Land Reform Summit, an initiative of Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, where he identified land reform, or the lack thereof, as a real risk to the provincial economy.

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Unintended Consequences

Gugile Nkwinti, Minister of Land Reform and Rural Development, announced the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill earlier in March this year. The Bill is now open for comments from interested parties after which it will be presented to Parliament for promulgation as an Act. If successful in its current form, this Bill holds the potential to fundamentally alter the manner in which we look and think about land ownership in South Africa. 

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Making sense of land reform in 2017 after the State of the Nation Address and Budget Speech.

During February 2017, we were offered 3 important perspectives from 3 prominent political leaders in South Africa on what the future might hold for our land reform project:

  1. The State of the Nation Address by President Zuma on the 9th of February.
  2. Subsequent statements from Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti.
  3. The Budget Address by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on the 22nd of February.
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Land reform crystal ball for the year ahead

A new year with new challenges and opportunities awaits us as 2017 got underway this past January. Land reform issues already surfaced. President Zuma used his final official message of 2016 to speak about land reform. President Zuma called for “decisive action” and “meaningful progress” on land reform and restitution in 2017. President Zuma also mentioned the possibility of using expropriation as a tool in fast tracking land reform, with the prerequisite that it must comply with the letter and spirit of our Constitution. And again during the recent ANC lekgotla held in January, the party’s National Executive Committee highlighted land reform as a priority.

Commentators have pointed out that in a year where the ruling party will hold an elective conference, populist messaging on the sensitive matter of land ownership is to be expected.

This year has also already reminded us of the power of Mother Nature through several run away fires in the Province. We are also in the midst of a crippling drought which affects the agricultural sector directly. Mother Nature is however not influenced by our societal and economic dreams and contestations.

 

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