20 February 2018
LAND EXPROPRIATION VS MASS COMMERCIAL FARMING
The Inyanda Land Movement welcomes and applauds President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to follow through on the ANC National Conference resolution to pursue a policy of land expropriation without compensation.
However, this bold step forward by our new President that gives hope to struggling landless people contrasts sharply with a statement by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government inviting commercial farmers in the Western Cape who have been hit by the drought to move their farming operations to the Eastern Cape.
The statement issued by Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, calls on Western Cape farmers to “set up their commercial farming in the province by partnering with land owners from our province to produce whatever commodity they want to produce to get returns from their investments.”
“Reports that farmers are likely to lose their profits and might not be able to pay back their loans, resulting in closure of their commercial farming, inspired us to open the doors of the province to help them continue their farming in the Eastern Cape,” the statement goes on to say.
Qoboshiyane’s statement comes in the context of precious little being done in the Eastern Cape to assist small scale farmers with land, infrastructure and resources. The invitation by the MEC is a serious insult to black small scale farmers in the Eastern Cape who continue to struggle for adequate land for livestock and crop farming.
The statement reveals the Eastern Cape government’s narrow approach of extending support and investment only to large-scale commercial farming, which is dominated by white farmers.
President Ramaphosa maintained in his State of the Nation Address that land redistribution was needed “not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation.”
Inyanda certainly regards land as critical to the economy and furthermore that land in the hands of small scale farmers can bring about change. We caution though that simply giving out land is not enough. It needs to be accompanied by support in the form of training and infrastructure. We will wait to see whether the comments of land expropriation and development of small scale farmers will be backed up in the budget that will be tabled shortly.
To this end Inyanda calls on President Ramaphosa to urgently reveal a proposed programme on land expropriation and redistribution. We believe also that the government should implement formal systems to provide support and resources to farmers so they can produce and effectively contribute towards the economy. Such programmes existed under apartheid but where for the exclusive benefit of white people.
The Inyanda Land Rights Movement is a federation of rural associations and small farmers unions. Established four years ago, Inyanda provides a voice and platform for the rural poor in tackling issues such as land and agrarian transformation, food sovereignty, rural democracy. Member associations are located in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo Provinces.