SA government

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‘It’s better to give a little bit now rather than lose it all’: Zim farmer’s ominous advice to SA land owners

Commercial Farmers Union deliver a stark warning to South Africa

SA government

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President of the CFU Peter Steyl has delivered a warning steeped in cautionary woe:

He is pleading with white South African farmers to agree on a land-share deal with the black majority to avoid suffering the same fate as their Zimbabwean counterparts who were violently evicted from their properties.

Steyl explained his thoughts on the matter:

“They are facing the same situation in South Africa. I would tell them: it’s better to give a little bit now than lose everything when things go too far.”

“We were arrogant. We thought they would never take the land because we were too important for the economy. You never think it will happen until people turn up at your door armed with machetes.”

Though Steyl feels that a compromise must be reached at some point, he does not believe that SA should follow Zimbabwe’s highly controversial land reform plans set out back in 2000.

At the time, Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched assaults on white-owned farms to repatriate land to black citizens. More than 4,000 white farmers in Zimbabwe were forcefully evicted from their land.

Read: Record number of SA farmers selling up and leaving amid fears of land grabs

However, as well as being divisive, the execution of the reforms were ill-conceived. Critics say a lot of beneficiaries didn’t have the means or knowledge to run the farms like the previous tenants did, causing an agricultural disaster for Zimbabwe.

The CFU’s acting director Ben Gilpin has claimed none of those farmers have been compensated, directly contradicting the words of Patrick Chinamasa – the government’s finance minister.

Chinamasa has said that $134m has been given to the farmers evicted from their land. According to Gilpin, however, this just isn’t true:

“We haven’t seen or heard of those payments from people whom we have been in contact with. We would need to check where those payments have gone.”

For South Africa, the spectre of an ugly fight for land reclamation looms large on the horizon. It is imperative that SA citizens and politicians realise that a fight for justice has to have a sustainable end game.

That just simply isn’t the case with land grabs.