For Mboweni's growth plan to succeed the ANC has to give up certain dogmatic positions that were formulated when 7% growth was the status quo, writes Adriaan Basson.
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national debate about whether or not to expropriate land without compensation
has over-shadowed other important developments in the political economy of
must be settled through a sensible, workable solution. It must lead to what President
Cyril Ramaphosa has promised: increased production, ensured policy certainty
and guaranteed food security.
are other important policy issues in the agricultural sector that need to be
tackled. Listening to some of the debate hosted by Nation in Conversation at the
Nampo Harvest Day agricultural show in Bothaville this week, I could not help but
take note of the issues that underpin a big divide in South Africa's agriculture.
South Africans are trapped in dead assets while whites have liquid assets. The
assets in the possession of blacks are communal plots over which the nominal
owners have no property rights and therefore can neither sell to raise capital
nor dispose of the land if they wish to.
other hand, white farmers are able to secure debt on their land or sell the whole
or part of it as they wish. It is evident that the communal system is an
ancient relic no longer suitable in the modern era. Black people want the
economic freedom that white people enjoy to use their assets to grow wealth.
Economic Freedom Fighters were serious about true economic freedom, they would
not be advocating for moving black people from one system of chieftain communal
land ownership to a sophisticated version of the same thing in which the state
replaces the chiefs.
denominator in both communal and state ownership is that they deny citizens the
right to own, trade, invest and utilise their property. The reason white
farmers are opposed to nationalisation of land is not only because they have
land – and a lot of it – to protect. But it is also the fact that revoking
ownership would mean a huge regression in their economic development.
communal system has given black people a double status: they are both citizens
and subjects at the same time. The two concepts are inherently at odds. As
citizens, they are theoretically free to exercise economic choices as well as
political choices. But as subjects, their democratic rights as well as their
economic rights are curtailed. This bifurcation of status must come to an end.
small holder communal farmers grapple with low productivity by using ancient
methods that are no longer suitable in the environment of climate change, soil
erosion, transnational ailments and other factors, commercial farmers are
talking about auto agriculture.
being unleashed on commercial farms. There is even talk that by 2035, South
Africa should adopt satellite farming using technologies pioneered by the likes
of US-based South African tech-entrepreneur Elon Musk. Companies like Vodacom
and John Deere are developing applications that would enhance interactivity on
farms. Meanwhile, Monsanto and others are advanced in genetic editing to
have a situation where being small is necessarily black and being big and
commercial is necessarily white. Should the land debate be settled the wrong
way, there is a real possibility that many black farmers might never reach the
status of their white commercial counterparts.
to markets is another big issue. Cut off from global supply chains, isolated by
poor infrastructure and cartels, and victimised by corrupt government
officials, black farmers can only supply small markets. It's almost as if they
remain subsistence farmers with only a semblance of commercialisation.
agriculture is a boys' club industry. Notwithstanding the fact that hundreds of
thousands of African women have worked the subsistence and commercial fields
for years, they are nowhere their male counterparts in terms of land ownership,
wealth and status. The gender divide, which is reflected at Nampo, must be
racial profile of Nampo exhibitors – the local and international suppliers of agricultural
machinery, agri-bankers, breeders and so on – as well as the visitors, make it
plain that black people have a long way to go. While the commercial sector of
agriculture is busy leaping forward with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and
fighting for global market share with the assistance of our government, many black
people in rural areas are stuck in ancient chiefdoms.
and something must be done. The starting point is that black people must
graduate from the status of subjects to being full citizens. This urgent and massive
transformation will affect millions of people across the country.
transformation is set in motion now, any additional land the state might
acquire from commercial farmers through whatever redistribution mechanisms will
help boost black people's fortunes directly. Neither the state nor chiefs should
be the beneficiaries of redistribution. In that way, Ramaphosa's intentions
might not sound like a pipedream.
- Mkhabela is a political analyst with the Department of Political Sciences at the University of South Africa. He was a participant in the Nation in Conversation debates at Nampo Harvest Day.Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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