agribusiness, strictly regulated for environmental sustainability

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Dec 21 02:18:06 GMT 2013

>From: Chris Baulman <landrights4all at>
>What if agribusiness, strictly regulated for 
>environmental sustainability, was recognised as 
>the best way to farm rural acres, while the 
>human right of those lacking secure land access 
>for housing & food gardening was provided for in 
>suburban neighbourhood community commons under 
>the same principle of environmental 
>sustainability. see 
>Happy Christmas
>Chris Baulman
>On 13 December 2013 10:28, Tony Gosling 
><<mailto:tony at>tony at> wrote:
>December 5, 2013 1:49 pm
>South Africa’s black farmers struggle with land reform
>By Andrew England in Committees Drift, Eastern Cape
>Mthimkhulu inspects his herd of cattle at his farm in Senekal
>A black farmer inspects his cattle on land formerly owned by a white farmer
>Elliot Nkompo discusses the trials and 
>tribulations of farming in 
>Africa after attending to a weak cow struggling to stand after calving.
>As someone with three decades’ experience as a 
>farmworker he is no stranger to the challenges 
>farming brings. Yet, four years after making the 
>transition from worker to land owner as the 
>beneficiary of a land reform programme pushed by 
>the ruling 
>National Congress, he is struggling to make ends meet.
>The reform – under which the state has acquired 
>white-owned land for blacks – is intended to 
>address huge imbalances in land ownership, the 
>legacy of colonial and apartheid policies. But 
>it is a complex and emotive issue that is set to 
>be a hot topic as campaigning picks up ahead of next year’s elections.
>And with the country approaching the 20-year 
>anniversary of the end of white minority rule, 
>black and white farmers alike say the programme 
>has failed to produce the desired results.
>While the ANC argues that the pace of reform has 
>been too slow, white farmers complain about 
>uncertainty and political pressure and many new 
>black farmers, like Mr Nkompo, lack resources 
>and struggle to make a success of their land.
>Acquiring his own farm was the realisation of a 
>once impossible dream for Mr Nkompo after a 
>lifetime toiling for a white farmer. But his 
>sick cow’s battle to stand is symbolic of his 
>own travails as he complains that the support he 
>expected from the government to help develop the land has not materialised.
>“When we sought the land we knew it was not 
>going to be easy, but we have been shocked,” he says.
>The government has acknowledged problems with 
>the reform, but wants to accelerate the process 
>and plans to dispense with its “willing buyer, 
>willing seller” policy under which white-owned 
>land can only be procured if the owner agrees to sell.
>Instead, it says it will look to expropriate 
>land at “fair value” prices set by an Office of 
>the Valuer-General. The ANC has also said it 
>wants to reopen a land claims process, closed 15 
>years ago, under which communities or 
>individuals can lay claim to land they say was dispossessed.
>Both are politically sensitive issues that have 
>taken on additional resonance as this year has 
>marked the centenary of the colonial 1913 
>Natives Land Act that limited African land 
>ownership to just 7 per cent of the country.
>What we seem to get wrong is to focus on land 
>transfer and not focus on people. Had they 
>focused on people they would make the land 
>reform programme suit people and the peculiarities of agriculture
>- Mohammad Karaan, Stellenbosch University
>Rural regions tend to be among the most racially 
>unreconstructed areas in post-apartheid 
>Africa, with most blacks living in abject 
>poverty. The ANC had set the goal of 
>redistributing 30 per cent of farm land to black 
>farmers by the end of next year but this target will not be met.
>“What we seem to get wrong is to focus on land 
>transfer and not focus on people,” says Mohammad 
>Karaan, dean of agriculture at Stellenbosch 
>University. “Had they focused on people they 
>would make the land reform programme suit people 
>and the peculiarities of agriculture.”
>The issue is further complicated because a land 
>audit is still being completed, meaning exactly 
>who owns what in terms of race and nationality is not clear.
>President Jacob Zuma has previously said 80 per 
>cent of agricultural land is in the hands of 
>about 50,000 white farmers and agri-businesses. 
>The government estimates that reaching the 30 
>per cent target would require transferring 24.5m 
>hectares out of the 82m hectares of agricultural land in white hands.
>About 6m hectares have been transferred to 
>blacks, including 4,800 farms, since the ANC 
>took power in 1994. But experts warn that simply 
>transferring land without effective support doesn’t work.
>Lali Naidoo, director of the East Cape 
>Agricultural Research Project, a 
>non-governmental organisation that supports 
>black farmers, says dispensing with the willing 
>seller policy may make land more available. But 
>she adds: “It’s not going to sort the problem of 
>use, support and agricultural production.”
>Many of the new black farmers come from poor 
>backgrounds and lack the resources to ensure their land is productive.
>The government is using land as a solution to 
>the problem, but land in itself is not. It has 
>to be worked effectively to be a solution
>- Brent McNamara, beef farmer
>Mr Nkompo, his wife and three other couples took 
>over 216 hectares when a white farmer retired, 
>with each individual receiving a grant of 
>R101,000 from the government. Pooling their 
>resources, they paid R570,000 for the land and 
>another R157,000 for 13 cattle and a pick-up 
>truck. They say they never received the remaining R80,000.
>The result is they have land but no capital to 
>invest in the harsh semi-arid landscape dotted 
>with yellow-flowered cacti. Instead they hope 
>the government will come to their aid with 
>irrigation systems and other assistance.
>“If we were to get these things I do not see 
>what will get in our way of success because we 
>know about farming,” Mr Nkompo says. Since 2010, 
>the department of rural development and land 
>reform has adopted polices intended to put more 
>emphasis on developing the capacity of farmers.
>But the department’s own capacity is questioned, 
>and Mr Nkompo has not yet reaped any benefits. 
>His small, basic farmhouse has neither 
>electricity nor running water. Yet at a 
>neighbouring farm, huge irrigation pivots spray 
>water over lush pasture at a commercial dairy operation.
>The contrast could not be starker and white 
>farmers – often characterised as being resistant 
>to reform – say the smaller black farms are 
>simply not viable given the harsh terrain.
>Brent McNamara, a beef farmer with 900 hectares, 
>insists commercial farmers are not against 
>reform, but argues it should not be forced in a 
>manner that creates uncertainty and hits 
>agricultural production. He alludes to 
>Zimbabwe’s experience, where the seizure of 
>white-owned farms triggered a collapse in agriculture.
>Few expect South Africa to follow that path but 
>solving the land question will continue to be a 
>colossal task laced with highly charged emotions.
>“There’s a big difference between us and 
>Zimbabwe, but the problem is the political 
>rhetoric can influence investment,” Mr McNamara 
>says. “The government is using land as a 
>solution to the problem, but land in itself is 
>not. It has to be worked effectively to be a solution.”
>He avoided Zimbabwe's mistake. Can it last?
>By <>Matt Purple – 12.11.13
>When he was elected president of South Africa in 
>1994, Nelson Mandela’s country was a sizzling 
>stovetop of grievances and ideologies, a place 
>where the vestiges of Apartheid mixed with newer 
>black nationalist and Marxist resentments. The 
>pressures Mandela faced were enormous.
>One of them was to follow the example of Robert 
>Mugabe, president of nearby Zimbabwe. A gapingly 
>disproportionate amount of land in both Zimbabwe 
>and South Africa was owned by the white 
>minority. Mugabe was in the process of 
>implementing a sweeping, coercive land reform 
>plan that would redistribute land en masse, and 
>without compensation, from whites to black 
>farmers. This ultimately hyper-inflated his 
>currency and annihilated the Rhodesian economy.
>South Africa’s land reform program, steered by 
>Mandela, was far more moderate and gradual. It 
>centered on a “willing buyer/willing seller” 
>policy­a “market reform” as naive conservative 
>wonks might put it today­that allowed white 
>landowners to sell their land voluntarily. The 
>in 1998 that the initiative “contrasts sharply” 
>with Mugabe’s jackbooted plans, while Mandela’s 
>successor, Thabo Mbeki, later said willing 
>buyer/willing seller was a necessary compromise 
>“to address the concerns of the minority.” The 
>goal was to transfer 30 percent of South African 
>land from whites to blacks by 2014.
>Today less than 10 percent of the land has been 
>redistributed and the program is widely 
>recognized as a debacle. Both wheels on the land 
>reform conveyor belt failed to spin. On the 
>seller end, the government’s collection of land 
>has been sluggish and tainted by accusations 
>that landowners weren’t sufficiently compensated 
>for their property. Additionally, many of those 
>who had claims settled for cash settlements rather than land itself.
>But the real kinks came on the buyer end from 
>that classic problem that’s bedeviled 
>redistributionists throughout history: The new 
>landowners lack the skills needed to cultivate 
>their fields. About 90 percent of the 
>government’s redistributed farms had failed as 
>of 2010. One black farmer, who used to drive a 
>tractor for a white farmer named Engelbrecht, 
>put it bluntly to 
>Los Angeles Times 
>“I thought I'd be much better off. But I think 
>it was better with Mr. Engelbrecht. We lived high with Mr. Engelbrecht.”
>Gugile Nkwinti, the land reform minister, summed 
>things up this way: “The government didn’t have 
>a strategy to ensure that the land was productive.”
>The program’s inertia is making many reformers 
>throughout the country impatient. A new 
>radicalism is bubbling on the South African 
>stove, one that’s looking to Robert Mugabe and 
>his model of punitive land confiscation. Angile 
>Lugisa, the former deputy president of the 
>African National Congress’s Youth League, 
>Mugabe earlier this year and announced, “We are 
>saying in South Africa and the whole of Africa, 
>we should emulate Zimbabwe.” When Land Reform 
>Minister Nkwinti was accused of employing 
>Mugabe-esque tactics to ignite anger before an 
>responded: “Mugabe is reversing what the British 
>did to the people of Zimbabwe. It's an honor.” 
>President Jacob Zuma has since announced that 
>the government will ax the willing buyer/willing 
>seller system in favor of a predetermined “just 
>and equitable” compensation and a limit on how much land individuals can own.
>Some of this is podium-thumping. There is a wide 
>gash of black resentment in Africa that’s been 
>exploited by savvy politicians, most notably the 
>populist Economic Freedom Fighters, whose 
>leader, Julius Malema, 
>pledged to drive whites off their land. But this 
>rhetoric can have very real consequences. Since 
>Apartheid was abolished, thousands of South 
>African farmers have been murdered, usually 
>white victims at the hands of black assailants. 
>of these killings spiked 25 percent between 2002 
>and 2007, with agriculture workers now twice as 
>likely to be murdered as other South African 
>citizens. And while the lion’s share of the 
>murders involve robberies rather than overt 
>politics, the rhetoric of militants like Malema 
>is certainly exacerbating a dark problem.
>South African politics is soaked in 
>redistribution, all the way through to its 
>founding document. The South African 
>constitution is a progressive fruit basket of 
>positive rights, and counts 
>its admirers Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It 
>explicitly requires the government to take 
>measures that “enable citizens to gain access to 
>land on an equitable basis.” It protects private 
>property too, but land reform measures can 
>supersede individual rights so long as “the 
>limitation [of the right] is reasonable and 
>justifiable in an open and democratic society 
>based on human dignity, equality, and freedom, 
>taking into account all relevant factors.” That 
>can mean just about anything to an imaginative 
>politician­especially one influenced by resentment and the Mugabe example.
>As we honor Nelson Mandela, let’s remember his 
>prudence on land reform: resisting Mugabe's 
>allure and striving for something that was 
>careful and relatively market-based. But let’s 
>also acknowledge the portents in South Africa 
>today: violence, racism, radicalism, with the 
>specters of both Apartheid and a failed redistribution scheme looming overhead.
>(my Twitter posts)
>that Works  (my home page)
><>landrights4All   (my Facebook)
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