Dr. Pieter Mulder, FF Plus Leader and deputy minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Reply to President Zuma's State of the Nation Address of 9 February 2012, February 15 2012
Mr. Speaker, honourable President,
What do the people of South Africa need at present? They need hope for the future. On my desk I have the slogan: "The poorest of all persons is not the person without a cent but the person without a dream."
The president and the speakers in this debate each spoke about of his/her dreams for the future. If only a quarter of those plans came to fruition, there is hope for the future.
Sir, make no small plans, because they have no magic to stir people's blood.
In the president's address there are big plans and big dreams for 2030.
The Freedom Front Plus welcomes the infrastructure announcements. This is a sign of long term planning and thus gives some hope for the future.
What is the most dangerous thing a government can do? It is to create expectations with citizens which cannot be realised. This is a recipe for revolutions.
Real leadership and statesmanship is that rare combination of the idealistic with the severely practical.
Why did the world cup projects succeed? Because there were deadlines. Because unnecessary red-tape was avoided. Because the best people for the projects were used. Because black empowerment rules and labour rules were applied flexibly.
Is the government prepared to do this? Or are we going to get stuck in the current climate of corruption, self-enrichment, inflexible labour laws, ineffectiveness and populist debates about nationalisation?
I mention two examples:
Mining and agriculture have the potential to create thousands of employment opportunities. Why did specifically these two performed poorly recently. Is it per chance that the calls for nationalisation from amongst the ANC are directed at specifically mines and agricultural land?
It is estimated that South Africa has mineral riches of $2,5 trillion. That is the mineral wealth of Australia and Russia combined. Yet South Africa's mining sector is in decline. South Africa's mining sector shrunk at a rate of 1% a year while mining sectors in other countries grew by 5% a year on average. The nationalisation debate definitely plays a role in this.
The past week's comments of the president against the nationalisation of mines brought more certainty. If the ANC's policy conference takes the correct decision in June, I predict good growth in the mining sector.
But in the same week the president repeated the statement that the "willing buyer-willing seller option has not been the best way to address the land restitution question." In plain language it means that the government believes in the nationalisation of agricultural land. Where there is now more certainty in the mining sector, there is less certainty in the agricultural sector today.
Anybody who has anything to do with the redistribution of land will prove that the problem does not lie with the willing buyer-willing seller principle. The problem is the disastrous way in which land redistribution has been implemented in the past 18 years. On my desk there are numerous letters of white commercial farmers who had offered their land to the department of Rural Development and Land Reform but have not received any response. Numerous letters from commercial farmers who had concluded purchasing contracts with the department and after three years go bankrupt because the department does not pay out their money.
The president quotes in his address the Department of Rural Development's figures on land reform. According to that, white people possessed 87% of the land and the government had reached only 8% of its 30% target. I seriously differ from these figures. As do I seriously differ with the statement that white people had stolen their land.
Land is a very emotional issue which have led to numerous wars. The president asks for a national dialogue about this issue. Such a discussion cannot be undertaken with propaganda facts, twisted history and emotional slogans. Next week this book, "Omstrede Land" (Disputed Land) will be released by prof. Louis Changuion (and Bertus Steenkamp). It deals with the land issue dating from 1600 until the present times. There are plans to also release it in English.
The ANC readily speaks of "Black people in general and Africans in particular." Sir, Africans in particular never in the past lived in the whole of South Africa. The Bantoe- speaking people moved from the equator down while the white people moved from the Cape up to meet each other at the Kei River. There is sufficient proof that there were no Bantoe-speaking people in the Western Cape and North-western Cape. These parts form 40% of South Africa's land surface.
There are also differences of opinion about the influence of the Difaqane on land ownership. Read the diaries of the Voortrekkers about what they found when they moved into the interior.
How does the department calculate the 8%? There isn't a completed land audit against which we could correlate these facts.
What does the ANC mean by 30% land in the hands of black people? Does it include state land and urban land? It is accepted that the state owns about 25% of the total land surface. State land certainly does not count as white land? Twenty five per cent state lands should then be added to the 8%. What about the Ingonyama trust land of more than 2,8 million ha of the Zoeloe king? Where is this and all the other communal land added? Mr. Ramaphosa and Minister Tokyo Sexwale recently bought a number of farms from white farmers. My source in Vryburg says that a company of minister Sexwale recently bought 30 farms in that area. This also has to be added to the 8%? In the Karoo and Kalahari huge farms are available. Why does the department not buy some of that land to reach their 30% quicker? These semi-desert lands are however added to the 87% propaganda percentage as white land.
The Development Bank calculated in 2001 that 44% of the land belongs to whites, 20% to blacks, 9% to brown people and 1% to Asians.
The way in which the department had calculated the 30% and 8% figures creates the impression that they are setting themselves up to fail.
I said land is an emotional issue. Propaganda figures and emotional slogans will not bring us to answers. Realistic debates with real figures however will.
The size of arable land under production dropped by 30% from 1994 up to 2009. Failed land reform, where 9 out of 10 farms are not successful, played an important role in this. Farmers now have to produce more food on less land for South Africa's population of 50 million.
I agree when minister Nkwinti says it does not help to merely chase after hectares. If that land does not produce food, we will have famine very shortly and then people will be running in the streets as they recently did in Mozambique when bread prices increased due to shortages.
In 2000 Zimbabwean farmers produced 2 million tonnes of maize. Last year, following land reforms they produced only 900 thousand tonnes. In 2000 Zimbabwe had 250 thousand tonnes of grain, last year they only had 10 thousand tonnes. It is not the result of drought. In the same time Zambia grew to where it has started exporting maize.
I want to repeat a quote which I used in the Cabinet Lekgotla. Mondli Makhanya wrote in the Sunday Times: (28/2/2010)
"...we are wasting valuable time and energy trying to restore people to their peasant ways.
Ordinary South Africans either do not want land or just do not have the capacity to work it. They want to go to cities and work in the modern economy... Large-scale, highly mechanised commercial farming is now the way of the world. You cannot turn the clock back four decades. That is just the reality. Furthermore, the young people would, as has happened elsewhere, have simply upped and headed for the towns and cities. Yet we continue to nurse the notion that we can reverse the inevitable march to an urban future. We keep wanting to fight the logic of large scale commercial farming... The money and energy that is spent on getting peasants back into subsistence (farming) would be better used to create a strong class of black commercial farmers who actually do farm for commercial rather than sentimental reasons."
I dream of white and black commercial farmers who do not have to go to Africa for opportunities. The children who were born in 1994 are 18 years old this year and can vote. They only know an ANC government. There is no reason why such a child should not be able to buy a farm or obtain a bursary, just because he/she is white. Yet this is still happening.
Sir, I want to give notice here today already that the FF Plus will be asking for a special language debate about the permanent onslaught against Afrikaans and the deterioration of all the indigenous languages in South Africa.
In politics one finds small people and great people. Small people are opportunistic and talk and gossip about other people. Great people talk and dream about ideas and the future. When we look back in 2030 to this debate, we will be able to determine who was busy with opportunistic small politicking and who was busy with realistic future plans in the interest of all. These are the dreams of the FF Plus and what we are busy with.
Issued by the Freedom Front Plus, February 15 2012
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