Updated: Apr 6
Black people must get over it and leave the back-breaking but crucial agriculture industry firmly entrenched in white farmers’ hands.
In fact, just forget about the government policies trying to address the emotive land issue. If blacks, who had been dispossessed of their land for centuries, can’t use it productively, they should forget about farming and pursue other careers.
Lucky Selamolela, spokesman for the political start-up African Economic Party (AEP) made these controversial remarks during an interview with The Star on Thursday, as he discussed his party’s priorities for the upcoming municipal elections.
He said organised agriculture had also done little to change the face of the industry, seen to be dominated by white commercial farmers, therefore rendering black farmers to peripheral roles within the multibillion-rand sector.
And to that end, no further land should be transferred to black people until such time that they are mentally fit to toil the land, thus fulfilling the biblical scripture that by the sweat of your brow shall you eat.
“The revolution will be betrayed if land is returned to us but we don’t utilize it productively. Black farmers are not doing enough. They have failed,” he charged.
With a claimed membership of 2 145, the AEP was the only political party “better positioned to consult other Africans on how to capacitate black farmers”.
“I suggest that before we claim our land, let’s ask ourselves some pressing questions such as: Are we currently better equipped to run it for agricultural production? If we were ready, the land would have long been in our hands by now. We are not ready mentally,” Selamolela proffered.
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AgriSA transformation manager Livhuwani Ngwekhulu said the issues raised by Selamolela had nothing to do with skin color.
“We support farmers irrespective of their background. Anyone can get into farming, as long as they have the skills and a support structure so as to access finances and the markets,” he said.
African Farmers' Association of SA (Afasa) secretary-general Aggrey Mahanjana dismissed Selamolela’s remarks as “political rhetoric”. He agreed with him that “we get land but seldom use it productively”.
“The support mechanisms are not strong enough, they are weak and not properly coordinated.
“We have been complaining about the very same issues,” Mahanjana said, adding that he didn’t think Selamolela had better ideas to change the status quo.
“I wish he could get a farm so we can see what he can do,” Mahanjana quipped.
Report from February 5, 2016, Johannesburg, South Africa