AgriSA emerged satisfied and hopeful of the future after what the farmers describe as “fruitful” discussion with the ruling ANC’s top leadership which assured the farming community that their property rights are not under threat and that land expropriation without compensation was not aimed at their rights but at addressing specific issues in the land reform process and to ensure an inclusive economy.
AgriSA president, Dan Kriek, said the meeting was important to them as it was a start of many meetings that would happen in future. Kriek led the delegation of about 200 farmers while ANC head of elections, Fikile Mbalula led the ANC side which also included chairperson of the ANC’s economic development sub-committee, Enoch Godongwana; ANC NEC member, Ronald Lamola; party deputy national organiser, Dakota Lekgoete and national spokesperson, Pule Mabe.
The meeting, held in Centurion today, is a sequel to an invitation extended by the ANC to the farmers intending to assure them that they should not panic about losing their land rights despite the envisaged expropriation of land without compensation. The gathering was also part of the ANC’s Thuma Mina campaign targeting various stakeholders and communities countrywide to address their concerns in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
At the conclusion of the discussion, the ANC said it was encouraged by the spirit of co-operation from the farming community. “We believe only through dialogue can sustainable solutions to the most difficult questions be found. The ANC is particularly interested in creating an inclusive economy, with land being a key part of the economy,” it said in a statement.
The ANC described the engagement as “productive and “fruitful”. They touched on various issues pertaining to the agricultural sector and responded to the farmers’ concern about the expropriation of land without compensation, including the possible amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to facilitate such expropriation.
“The question of property rights is central to this, this right is not under threat. The ANC position on land expropriation without compensation is for specific circumstances in the land reform process. This is aimed at supporting open commerce and certainty,” Mbalula said.
Mbalula said the ANC was encouraged by the farmers’ co-operation as it believed that only through dialogue can sustainable solutions to the most difficult questions be found. “The ANC is particularly interested in creating an inclusive economy, with land being a key part of the economy,” he said.
Kriek told The Citizen in an interview later that he was equally happy with the outcome. “This is the first of many meetings on this issue that we will have with the ANC. It is very important because there is a need for us to keep together.”
Kriek said: “This engagement with the ANC is of immeasurable value, we are optimistic about the future of a sustainable agricultural sector in South Africa. I feel that the ANC heard our concerns and will take it into consideration for the path ahead.”
He confirmed that the farmers raised concerns regarding land expropriation without compensation. According to Kriek, AgriSA remains totally opposed to any amendment to section 25 of the Constitution.
“AgriSA believes that Section 25 as it currently stands does provide the state with the necessary legislative powers to ensure that land reform takes place in an orderly way and according to prescribed processes. We all have to work together now to ensure food security for all South Africans,” Kriek said.
He said AgriSA would continue to advocate for South Africa’s farmers and the farming communities. He reiterated his organisation’s opposition to any amendment to the Constitution. “We base our argument on the Motlanthe Report,” Kriek said.