Established farmers need to take emerging farmers under their wing to avoid a "Marikana” type of uprising, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday (11/10/2012).
"Help emerging farmers... if you are not doing that, you are going to have restlessness,” he told the Agri SA congress in Muldersdrift.
Mantashe said wildcat strikes across the country, including the violent illegal strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana in August, were not "merely about wages”.
"I think it’s a serious protest and uprising that says, listen we are not benefiting from the wealth of the country, wake up,” he said.
"We should all work together to avoid an uncontrolled and unmanaged revolt to change our own country.” Farmers should be part of that change, he said.
Black emerging farmers who had not previously had access to land now lacked skills.
"The question of dispossession... is equally the process of de-skilling,” he said.
Mantashe admitted he was one of these emerging farmers and his son was studying agriculture.
"I’m an emerging farmer, very serious about it, but what I know is it’s one of the most difficult sectors of the economy.” He told the farmers there was no shame in state intervention in the economy, but said ”wholesale nationalisation would be a disaster”.
"The ANC is convinced that an uncontrolled, unsystematic approach to land will be a disaster. I can assure you that we aren’t going to see land grabs without compensation.” He reassured farmers that government would not give in to those groups calling for nationalisation.
However, as 2013 was the centenary of the Native Land Act - under which blacks were largely dispossessed of their land - government would come under increasing pressure to reform land ownership.
But land redistribution should be done to primarily favour food security.
"We must appreciate that farming, agriculture primarily is about food security and food production, now, everything else must be secondary.”
He said land redistribution should be underpinned by improved efficiencies in the recapitalisation and development programmes offered to emerging farmers. At the moment, the programmes were implemented too slowly.
The land audit, being undertaken by the rural development and land reform department, needed to be completed.
"We must know what we are talking about, we must not guess,” Mantashe said.
There needed to be certainty about land owned by the state, land bought for redistribution, and land that was "off the radar”.
"I suspect that there’s more land that has gone to those (black) farmers that buy farms privately than land that has been redistributed through the land programme.” Land bought privately by black farmers was not quantified, which was a problem.
Earlier this year, Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said the audit would be completed by June. However, at the African National Congress’s policy conference in June, it was announced it would be completed by December.
Mantashe called on Agri SA to give regular input to government to help shape policy. - Sapa