LIMPOPO – The Leader of the DA, Mmusi Maimane, says over 127 400 new jobs had been created in the Western Cape through the agriculture and agri-processing sectors and that it would not be a miracle for Limpopo to follow suit.
Maimane spoke during a farm visit to black farmers in Northam who have allegedly been blocked from obtaining ownership of the land they farm in Limpopo.
He said the Western Cape was the only provincial government in the country to establish evaluation of all land reform farms, which he said, had already paid off dividends by increasing employment by 40%, especially in the agriculture sector.
Maimane said the DA was going to work hand in glove with farmers in Limpopo to ensure such employment statistics were also harvested in Limpopo and elsewhere.
“We believe that qualified black farmers must be given the land to own it rather than being at the mercy of government; this is so that they can play a meaningful role of swelling the economy of the country,” said Maimane.
He said the DA has learnt with dismay that several other black farmers were paying exorbitant fees to government without an option of owning the land they farm on.
Maimane said the lack of access and security of tenure among black South Africans in rural and agricultural areas is perpetuated by an ANC-led government who speak the language of ’empowerment’ but only perpetuate dependency in practice.
“The ANC will have you believe that they care about land reform but in reality they care about control. This is not real empowerment. Land reform is imperative and presents an opportunity to stimulate rural economies and truly empower disadvantaged black South Africans,” he said.
Maimane added: “While thousands of South Africans still wait for land restitution for the purposes of settlement and agriculture, over 1,4 hectares of land in SA is still to be transferred to its rightful owners.
His words were echoed by DA MP and Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Annette Steyn, who said the ANC-led government ostensibly withheld the transfer of 1,4 million hectares of land worth R8,6 billion to its rightful owners.
During the visit to Nooitgedacht farm outside Northam, Maimane also visited a farmer, David Rakgase, who has been leasing his farm for the past 26 years.
Rakgase has successfully run his farm that includes a game of more than 300 cattles, 100 goats, 80 sheep and 80 pigs.
His farm also includes 25 hectares of planted pasture for fodder production and butchery.
Rakgase also runs a mentorship programme assisting young emerging farmers with training and development.
It was later discovered the 77-year-old farmer was still not the owner of the farm after over 20 years of being given the runaround by government.
“That is why we have begun with the legal process of restoring Rakgase’s option to become the owner of his farm. Our legal team has written to the state attorney’s office asking for an explanation about why the land has not been transferred to Rakgase for so many years. I think we have a sound case as he has been unfairly deprived of the land that is now contractually his,” added Maimane during the visit.
The provincial government downplayed the allegations made by the DA in response.
Phuti Seloba, the Spokesperson for the Limpopo Provincial Government, said most of the land owned by government was leased to farmers because of the long process faced by the Land Reform Department due to land claims.
Seloba said the province was committed to making sure that the land is awarded to its rightful owners, once the process is finalised.