Avatar photo

By Bennie Van Zyl

General Manager


ANC’s use of land as a political tool has only created instability

Dishing out land is no answer to South Africa's problems, writes Bennie van Zyl.


The ANC continues to use land as a political tool.

Dr Mathole Motshekga, senior ANC MP, recently stated that the biggest threat to South Africa’s democracy is the government’s failure to solve the land question.

However, it is a complex issue that needs to be understood in its entirety.

What does the ANC mean by “solving”? Can they perhaps outline their solution? How will the country look when the ANC is done with it?

ALSO READ: Land reform: Why it has not gone well and the issues to address

The truth is the population of South Africa comprises various peoples who have been brought together by historical circumstances; the government’s policy environment of socialism and communism has only exacerbated the problems citizens face.

As a result, unemployment and poverty have become commonplace and this has been further perpetuated by the ANC and other revolutionary organisations’ promises of land to the people.

The lies about the history of land ownership have been told so often it is now the truth for many.

The truth is, both whites and blacks are second-generation inhabitants of SA.

It is important to note that most South Africans live in urban areas and depend on commercial farmers to provide food.

Successful commercial farmers show the necessary passion for agriculture, accept the responsibility of what it takes to be a farmer and have built up the necessary knowledge (in many cases over generations) to manage all the agriculture variables to profitability.

There are approximately 37 000 commercial farmers in SA and it is essential to understand the principle of the economy of scale and how it applies here.

If farms are broken down into smaller units and given to “land-hungry” people, it would be impossible for them to operate economically due to the lack of an economy of scale.

READ MORE: Land question must be resolved to ensure economic sustainability

Wealth does not exist but is worked for. And this is something the ANC does not seem to understand.

The policy of transferring land has resulted in more than 90% of the farms going out of production, which will only lead to a lack of food.

It’s also worth noting that most restitution claimants have opted for money instead of land, showing a “wealth hunger” rather than a land hunger.

A farmer’s success is not about which race or gender they should be, but whether they will be successful.

In 2005, TLU SA made constructive proposals to the government outlining how any new entrant could have a fair chance of success in farming.

However, they were not interested in learning from years of trial and error.

The ANC’s continued use of land as a political instrument has only created instability. There is no investment confidence, which is essential for economic growth.

The markets have reacted negatively to the mere mention of expropriation without compensation, which has seen R100 billion in foreign currency leaving the country since the beginning of the year.

Unemployment and crime are out of control and providing social grants is unsustainable.

There is still some degree of stability, however, due to the private sector.

NOW READ: Expropriation without compensation: ‘People will fight for their land’

For SA to move forward, the government needs to understand the complexities of the land question.

It is crucial to realise that wealth is created through hard work and effort, not simply being given land.

Perhaps it’s time every person elected to parliament – to make laws – must have economics 101 behind their name.

Perhaps, just perhaps, they’ll see the context for achieving economic growth.

Written by Bennie van Zyl, General Manager of TLU SA

Read more on these topics

African National Congress (ANC) farmers land