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Farm list ‘absolutely stupid’

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The ANC in the Northern Cape was in the process of doing an audit of all privately-owned as well as state-owned land.

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“ABSOLUTELY preposterous!” This is how one senior city official described the list of farms in the Northern Cape identified by the provincial ANC for possible expropriation without compensation.

The ANC listed 30 farms in the Northern Cape, including several large commercial farms, for possible expropriation without compensation once the parliamentary processes have been finalised.

Vineyards and mixed-farming farms in the Keimoes, Kakamas and Kanoneiland area seem to be on the radar on the list published on social media earlier this week by ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga.

Ngxanga said yesterday that the ANC in the Northern Cape was in the process of doing an audit of all privately-owned as well as state-owned land.

“This is to ensure that once the process of amending Section 25 of the Constitution has been finalised, we are able to speedily ensure that the land is distributed to especially young people who are interested in working the land,” said Ngxanga.

The official meanwhile dismissed the list as “absolutely stupid”. “What other words can one use to describe a situation where a convicted felon is still in possession of a farm?”

He was referring to the farm Taaiboschdraai in Petrusville which was leased to John Block.

“The fact that a person like this is still in possession of a farm provides little confidence that farms in the Northern Cape, once expropriated, will be distributed equally and fairly to those who have a knowledge of farming.”

He pointed out that several farms purchased by the state for restitution had, after just a few years, ended up in the courts. “There was no aftercare and most of these farms are no longer producing. Many have been leased back to white farmers, while the acquisition of these farms have been dogged with corruption.”

He pointed out that many of the farms have also ended up supporting diamond mining. “Massive profits are being made by the diamond companies but if you ask the communities who were supposed to benefit, they will tell you that they have received very little meaningful reward after they were given the land. The diamond mining companies got rich, but the beneficiaries have remained poor.”

He added that as much as he supported expropriation, it should not be used as a political tool.

Sensationalism

“The landowners had to acquire bonds to purchase their farms, they did not take it by force. The publication of this list is sensationalism and political rhetoric without any thought for the consequences. No one whose land has been identified is going to have the will or desire to continue farming on the land. This will negatively affect food production. The provincial ANC is shooting itself in the foot to gain political points ahead of the elections. It has never expressed itself on the land given to Block and whether this should be returned – they might as well then give all the farms to people in prison.”

He went on to state that if land was expropriated it should be done as part of redress and should be equitable, fair and transparent. “Will the farms that are expropriated be given to the Top 5 (officials in the ANC) – what assurance do we have that this won’t happen, as it has happened previously.

“Issuing lists like these is inciting fear and causing unnecessary tensions in the Province – and fear can drive people to do stupid things.

“Farmers whose land has been identified will go to court we do not need this right now.

“The idea of land restitution is noble, but in practice many of these farms will be reduced to nothing in just a few years. Ask any farmer and he will tell you that farming is hard work.”

A Northern Cape farmer, whose farm is on the list, said yesterday that he was totally surprised.

“I didn’t even know that my farm was up for expropriation,” the farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “Somebody could have at least informed us. We don’t know now what to do. I suppose you could say our only saving grace is that the amendments to Section 25 of the Constitution has been delayed. It at least gives us a little time to suss out what we can do to save our farms.”

Meanwhile, Agri NC general manager Henning Myburgh said yesterday that expropriation could only be done by the state.

“Our investigation has shown that none of the state departments in the Northern Cape have issued any list of farms to be expropriated,” said Myburgh.

“Furthermore, expropriation must be done in terms of the Constitution and applicable legislation. The process of amending the Constitution is still a long way off and at this stage any talk of expropriation is purely speculation. Agri SA is involved in securing the interests of the agricultural sector in that process. It is our aim to ensure an orderly and sustainable extension of commercial agriculture to all sectors of the South African society.”

Agri NC president Nicol Jansen said in a webcast on social media that is was important that farmers knew their rights.

“This list makes it difficult for the agricultural sector to maintain the goodwill in respect of land reform that currently exists in the Northern Cape,” said Jansen.

He added that it was ironic that most of the farms on the list had already implemented successful empowerment projects that had improved the circumstances of many.

Jansen assured local farmers that Agri NC would support its members if anything further came of the list, “so that our members’ constitutional rights in respect of their properties are exercised”.

He urged farmers not to “fight this war” in the media or on social media and to wait until there is official confirmation of the situation.

“We are aware of the list and we will give it our attention, as well as obtain legal advice if necessary.”

Jansen reiterated, however, that the Northern Cape provincial government departments were not aware of the list. “It is not an official document and it has not been issued by government.”