I READ Athol Trollip’s excellent leader page article in Friday’s Herald ("Land rights vital to reform”) with particular interest, having recently paid a visit to KwaZulu-Natal.
On the way up to the Drakensberg we passed through the eastern Free State, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and productive farmlands, not to mention the safety with no stray animals.
From the Drakensberg we crossed to northern Zululand, mile upon mile of overgrazed land, serious soil erosion and untended animals everywhere.
It was soul destroying to see so much poverty in those vast tracts of once fertile land, so devastated with hardly any attempt at even a patch of mealies or a vegetable garden.
Our return trip took us through the Transkei. There, the veld was in better condition due to the good rains and some effort is being made to maintain fences to keep animals safe from the traffic, but, once again, there was only an occasional small patch of mealies and no other agriculture.
Both KwaZulu-Natal and the Transkei were good farming areas that should at least be feeding the resident population but, as Trollip says, no-one puts effort or money into land to which they have no claim.
It makes one wonder about the efficacy of the tribal system.
Surely it is time in our history to eliminate serfdom and empower the people living on the land? The problem is exacerbated by most of the residents being women who have no authority whatsoever under the tribal authorities.
All they can do is just wait for government handouts.
If memory serves me correctly these lands were bought up by the apartheid regime and presented free of charge to the tribal authorities who were their minions. Are the lands still owned by those same tribal authorities?
If so, is it not appropriate that the land be made over to the people who have been occupying it since the inception of the homelands? Once the land is in private hands, the government can invest money in promoting and assisting with agricultural schemes instead of supporting the occupants with grants.
I wonder if there are any tribal leaders out there who have the interest of the country and their people at heart who would be prepared to initiate such a scheme in their area of authority?
One interesting thing we did observe in the Transkei is that some enterprising entrepreneur is encouraging the "harvesting” of the car wrecks that have always littered the veld near the road.
The veld is now clean and the metal is in neat piles next to the road with a person in attendance waiting, no doubt for it to be collected and to reap the reward for his labour.
Well done to whoever got that enterprise under way.
Strelza Schumann, Humewood, Port Elizabeth