Emotions run high in debate on land

2011-04-01 00:00

EMOTIONS ran high in the KZN legislature yesterday as the provincial agricultural debate spiralled into near chaos over issues of farm security and land ownership.

It started with IFP shadow MEC for Agriculture, Henry Combrinck, speaking against the Land Tenure Security Bill, which he said would create problems for white farmers. “You are creating a boiling pot,” he said.

Combrinck listed a litany of complaints and expressed frustration at inadequate responses from the department.

He bemoaned the fact that more is not being done about farm attacks. He grew increasingly emotional, saying if more is not done farmers could take the situation into their own hands. He spoke of machinery that could bring areas to a standstill by blocking roads. “Ek is a boer,” (I am a farmer), he said.

Agriculture MEC Lydia Johnson berated Combrinck, saying: “You can’t come and stand in this House and say what you boers can do”.

Johnson was egged on by her fellow ANC Members of the Legislature.

Amid this jeering Combrinck stood up on a point of order, accusing the MEC of “playing a racial game. It is easy for me to turn around and say you blacks,” he said.

Johnson rebutted: “You said you were a boer”. ANC MPLs broke into a struggle song: “Thina sizwe esimnyama, sikhalela umhlaba wethu owathathwa amabhunu. Mabawuyeke umhlaba wethu”— a reference to the land taken by Afrikaners.

Chairperson Happy Blose had a hard time bringing the house to order. ANC MPL Sipho Gcabashe eventually apologised to Blose. He said that unfortunately emotions ran high in response to the words of the opposition.

When the House settled and Arts and Culture MEC Weziwe Thusi stood up to deliver her budget speech, she introduced a note of light relief.

Complimenting her fellow parliamentarians she told the chairperson — who by now was looking less harassed — “you have a group of good singers in this House”.

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