Has government abandoned black farmers?

According to The Citizen black farmers have accused government of abandoning them.

The farmers have stated that the major issue that has led to their farms failing over the years has been a lack of funding.

When the farmers do get access to funding it is generally not according to the needs of their business plans, but rather government’s own take on what is needed.

According to one of the farmers, Whiskey Kgabo, his land in Tzaneen was reclaimed by government in 2005, forcing him to restart his business as he fought for eight years to get it back.

Once he did, he needed R15 million in order to fully utilise the land, but only got R1 million, and told he would have to come back for more.

Another report in the Citizen stated that Vumelane, a non-profit organisation that tries to help black farmers, found that of the eight million hectares of land that has been transferred to black farmers, about 90% is now unusable.

The problem identified by that article by the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa  is that after the land has changed hands, it can take three to four years for the new farmers to get the post-transfer support that they are entitled to, and by that time the new farmers have to start from scratch.

Part of the Gupta corruption scandal has been the Estina Dairy saga – where the Gupta family stands accused of siphoning money intended for black farmers into their own pockets thanks to government corruption.

Another scandal that has had direct implications for farmers has been corruption within the land bank. This went all the way to the top with the former CEO of the bank being found guilty of fraud at the beginning of the year according to IOL.

Times LIVE reported earlier this month that Jacob Zuma, while he was president received cattle from the OR Tambo district municipality, which was supposed to go to black farmers in the area. Instead they went to Nkandla.

Land reform under Zuma virtually paused, as I have discussed before.

My Take

It is remarkable how the same general things you hear from white farmers about what is needed for land reform to work, are the same general things you hear from black farmers. We are not so divided.

Part of the problem that prevents meaningful transformation from happening is that we are kept at each other’s throats by politicians who thrive on keeping us from really hearing each other out.

The thing is we all want more or less the same things for our country – we want as much success in our country as possible because the more successful our fellow South Africans are the easier it is for all of us to succeed.

We are in this together.

A lot of the issue around land has historically been a smokescreen, where corrupt politicians exploit a sore point for our people in order to gain power or maintain it.

The solutions to this have always been present, and it has never required a constitutional amendment to put them into practice.

Even just doing the basics right, not having the fraud, not having assets that were supposed to go to black farmers going to politicians and cronies, that would have done a lot.

That isn’t what we got, and this was by design because maintaining the economic status quo keeps the country frozen in a time when the ruling party can get away with anything.

People don’t vote on loyalty or ethnicity or anything like that.

What people vote on is economics, and keeping us trapped within a particular economic situation means that the kind of party that rises to power in that situation can keep power in that situation.

This is part of why the EFF are treated as such a threat to the government, they essentially exist to call the government’s bluff on its “radical economic transformation” agenda.

In way my feelings on the EFF are mixed as a result. On the one hand it is a good thing to have an opposition party that can call the government on its policy, on the other their racialised rhetoric tells me that their interest is in keeping us divided and not really solving the problems they identify so much as exploiting us the same ways we’ve always been exploited.

If government or the EFF were to take land redistribution seriously we would not be talking about expropriation without compensation – because the presence of compensation wasn’t what went wrong with the old system.

What went wrong with the old system was essentially corruption leading to inefficiencies in funding post redistribution – which made starting up as a black farmer incredibly difficult. Expropriation without compensation does nothing to solve this problem.

I think the black farmer was set up as a sacrifice intended to fail, so that when the ANC got to the next elections they could talk about “White Monopoly Capital” and how the private sector wasn’t coming to the party, and how so much land is in the hands of white people who just don’t want to share, all of which would get them elected again.

No matter what our race, tribe, creed, or whatever, we don’t really vote on that stuff.

We vote on economics, a revolutionary party that actually achieves its economic goals no longer has grounds for revolution, and thus no longer has the same reason to exist. We are thus maintained in an economic status quo which is harmful to the majority of our people, because if the economic revolution ever actually succeeded what would our political leadership talk about at election rallies?

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