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Jonathan Brady
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Animal Farm: Modise and the Land Issue

12 July 2014, 13:11
South African politics and business looks set to go for deeper and more heated round of debate following the legalization of land reform.

The recent passing of the land reform bill has left many stakeholders and observers alike in a heightened state of awareness.

 For many who even have a cursory glance at the headlines, the stance of private business and political opposition parties (namely the DA) is clear, land reform is harmful to the economy, and threatens to hurt jobs as well as food security.

Many of their arguments lay in the evidence of failed small to medium businesses which are attributed to lack of business acumen and numerical literacy. Members of civil society have also foreseen this trend continuing in the rural sector, where scientific approaches to farming are indeed necessary[1].

Even where those who have the resources to buy and acquire managerial assistance, failure has still come to characterize farming taken up by African people.

 The recent NSPCA raid on the farm of Thandi Modise, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), will come to serve as a symbolic reminder for many.

 Political opposition will certainly come to use this incident as a tool for arguing their case, given its proximity to the ruling party’s elite, many of whom have come out defending Modise who is facing the possibility of a year in jail[2].

 The timing of this incident, just a few weeks after the passing of the land bill could not have come at a less embarrassing period for the ANC, especially after the national elections.

With the recent appointment of Helen Zille as deputy chairperson of the NCOP, one could easily get the sense that such a raid on Modise’s farm could have been engineered through the DA.

Given the recent skull doggery which was well publicized after the departure of Lindiwe Mazibuko, a tip off to the SPCA is well within the capabilities of Zille and her officials.

Given the demographic make-up of the party as well, such an alleged tip off would be done with a great deal of ease, compounded by the fact that it sets a series of blows for the ANC.

 That said, this is not in defence of Modise or the ANC, her negligence should be punished accordingly, although the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.

The impact of this incident hurting the ANC’s passing of the bill cannot lead to its repeal, so the use of this incident by political opposition will be to influence the mindset followers and the electorate, something which it has managed to do this past election to some extent.

But if this this is an attempt at discrediting the land reform bill, what alternative solutions are on offer? Small scale farming could well come into play, but increasing its production capacity should become a primary concern for the state, utilizing schools and expertise from universities and involved stakeholders alike.

There also structures which are ideally placed to help in this venture, like the ministry of small to medium sized businesses. Lastly, as it stands, leadership, as well as the people of South Africa need to come to a collective head in consolidating their efforts.

 The debacle of Modise, although not detrimental in any fundamental way to the ANC, still sets the tone for disappointment among its followers.

It adds to an already incredulous list of allegations against her and the behaviour of party officials which indulge in lavish spending.

The aspirations of many are to become cadres in the mesh of political life and with this particular incident, these aspirations look set to continue rather than diverge to agri-business. The evidence for deviation from such ventures is now for all to see.


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