In the dust being raised in the debate about property expropriation without compensation, the plight of some of the most critical people on the land in South Africa – black farmers – was ignored.
At a farmers’ gathering to discuss land issues, these farmers had a message for President Cyril Ramaphosa: the real way to empower black people is to give proper support to black farmers. That is not close to happening at the moment, as the ANC pursues the populist land chimera.
Government has failed to back black farmers, even when they have viable businesses and solid business plans. In some cases, tragically, black farmers themselves have even been dispossessed of their land through land claims, some of which were incorrect. In those cases, proper compensation has been a long time coming.
Elsewhere, it is the white farming community, rather than the government, reaching out a hand to black farmers. Many of those white farmers realised that co-operation, and not confrontation, is the only way for South Africa to survive. Some have even begun sharing land and business shares with their workers.
There is plenty of empowerment happening in the farming sector … but the government also needs to get involved.