EDINBURGH – The white farmer is an easy target for observers who align themselves with President Jacob Zuma’s government, which has encouraged and exacerbated racial tensions. Look at the cold hard facts of farm killings and there are few sympathisers for the pale-faced individuals who put food on South African tables. Instead, there is a deep ethnic hatred seeping through commentaries in The Star, controlled by Zuma sycophant Iqbal Survé, and elsewhere, notes veteran journalist Ed Herbst in this in-depth analysis of the plight of the white farmer. Zuma and his friends have a lot to answer for, even paying London-based public relations firm Bell Pottinger to drum up anti-white sentiment, as do Julius Malema and his band of red-capped followers who beat the anti-white drum at every opportunity possible. Meanwhile, a group of people important for rebuilding South African economy are slowly but surely seeking lives elsewhere. – Jackie Cameron
By Ed Herbst*
The white farmer in Zimbabwe and South Africa
“They beat him with a pole… and you could hear the bones breaking,” said Debbie Turner as she recounted her husband’s murder in a slow, defiant voice.
She refuses to talk about him in the past tense and sleeps with a photo of him close by.
Debbie Turner is scathing of the police who have yet to catch her husband’s killers – or even take a statement from her.
“It shows that what happened that night doesn’t mean anything to these people,” she said. – Racially charged farm murders rock SA News 24 26/12/2017
South Africa’s 35,000 remaining commercial farmers (down from 60,000 in 1996) are vital to the food security of 54-million South Africans (up from 40-million in 1995). They also contribute 3.9% of the country’s gross domestic product, employ more than 650,000 mostly unskilled people and help to boost exports and hold down the current account deficit.
They generally have good relationships with their workers and don’t pay less than the statutory minimum wage. Many have also done all they can to mentor new black farmers and generally help with the process of land reform. – Frans Cronje Mail & Guardian 16/10/2015
As we struggle for breath in the ANC’s toxic maelstrom of venality, incompetence, indolence and a total aversion to preventative maintenance, there will always be those who those who seek to distract us from these ills by scapegoating and demonising the declining minority of white South Africans and by constantly threatening them.
The ANC and the Race Merchants who hastened to attack the Black Monday marchers have not commented on a short clip which appeared on YouTube and, quite frankly, they are hoping you have not seen it. The relief you see, the unbridled joy, the hugs … all are the antithesis of what they want you to know, black farm employees overjoyed at the return of their employer, the white farmer who the ANC exploits to ramp up ethnic tension.
In June this year Robert Smith and his family were forcibly driven off their farm Lesbury in the Tandi district of Zimbabwe by a gang of Zanu-PF thugs and the farm was given to one of Robert Mugabe’s henchmen.
Robert Smith’s previous employees were there to greet him and they, like him, were ecstatic.
Sevilla Madembo (55) was born on Lesbury as were her parents and grandparents and she helped to raise Smith’s son, Darryn of whom she said:
He was born here. I have known him since he was a day old. Now he is back to look after me in my old age.
Smith, as jubilant as his employees said:
I am ecstatic, words can’t describe the feeling.
He had clearly longed for the day when he could return to his vocation, food production and the staff who were part of that team effort. His country’s new government was happy to see him return to that role in a country where the majority of the population go to bed hungry.
Of the somewhat 4500 white farmers who contributed massively to the country’s economy before 2000 when ANC hero Robert Mugabe – without the slightest condemnation from the ANC – began to steal their farms for himself, his wife and his Zanu-PF cohorts, only a few hundred remain.
Smith was one of them and Zanu-PF is now imploring others like him to return to food production.
The ANC would love emulate Mugabe as its recent land expropriation without compensation resolution at its elective conference shows.
In this regard it is constrained by the Constitution which it will seek to alter.
The ANC’s impact on agriculture has, nevertheless, been catastrophic with farmers being murdered, often with primeval barbarity by the week and its land reform policies having, predictably, been a failure.
The contrast between Zimbabwe where the ruling political party is imploring farmers to return to the land and our own situation is disturbing.
According to a 2015 World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF) study 95 percent of South Africa’s formal sector food is produced by just 3% of the country’s farmers and the government’s antipathy to white farmers and its proposed policies – which include a limit on farm sizes to deny farmers economies of scale and a ban on foreign ownership so prevalent in the wine industry – are driving an increasing number of them to leave the country.
More than 20 000 farms are up for sale, more so than at any previous time in the past two decades – all part of the ANC’s ‘good story to tell’.
Vast swathes of once productive farm land now lie fallow as a result of the ANC’s failed land reform policies. Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti candidly acknowledges that the billions of rands spent in the past two decades have reduced food security because 90% of the redistributed farms lie fallow, with former employees now living in shack settlements around nearby towns as valuable farming equipment rusts on abandoned fields, as buildings are carried away brick by brick and once-arable lands and productive pastures become veld again.
The once-profitable Magwa and Majola tea estates in the Eastern Cape are a useful case study having siphoned up millions of rands in bailout after bailout – ANC agriculture’s answer to SAA being a useful analogy.
While the ANC constantly berates the white farming community, its own representatives are hardly ideal role models in this regard and, in its lack of support for farmers, it creates rather than solves problems.
In the absence of viable input from the ANC government, farmers are seeking their own pragmatic solutions and their goodwill in this regard was outlined by Christo van der Rheede chairman of Agri-SA in an article published in the Naspers newspapers. He has kindly given me permission to make my English translation of that article a matter of record:
At Agri-SA we are also privileged to attend events where annual awards are handed out to performing commercial and emergent farmers and farm workers. An important criterion is their contribution to the improvement of the living conditions of others. The social upliftment programs initiated on farms by various provincial, operational and corporate entities amounts to hundreds of millions of rands.
This transfer of skills and knowledge, assistance with funding, market access and mentorship the promotion of the wellbeing of others, the improvement of people’s living conditions, restoring their dignity and developing their capabilities to enable them to make an independent and self-sufficient living, are often taken for granted.
But who are the farmers who are laying the foundation for such programs?
In our interaction with them we soon realised that these are farmers who wish to make a success of the new social and socio-economic order established in 1994. This offers the blueprint for successful partnerships and places a moral and ethical obligation on everyone to take co-responsibility for the wellbeing of our fellow citizens. For many farmers this is a life attitude. How do we, however, convince our government of this critical role played by our farmers and how do we establish win-win partnerships with them? This should be the focus, rather than enforcing race-driven measures. Such measures add no value to wealth creation and the promotion of wellbeing.
Just think of the incredible impact on our country and all of its people if we all, including our government, would see the promotion of wellbeing not as an obligation but rather as an attitude toward life!
In his article, van der Rheede provided examples of these projects:
We regularly visit projects launched by commercial farmers in collaboration with emergent famers, their workers and rural communities. And what a revelation! In the Vaalharts area where farmers produce pecan nuts, farm schools that were closed down by the provincial department have been converted into affordable private schools. This ensures that farm children in remote areas are provided with quality education. At Bonnievale an entrepreneur school is being constructed in partnership with the Western Cape department of education, the farmers in the area and the Jakes Gerwel Foundation.
The annual general meeting of the Waitrose Foundation included a report on the construction of nursery schools, sports facilities, computer-supported teaching in mathematics for farm children and numerous other empowerment projects on farms. Strong partnerships also exist between farmers and organisations such as Hlokomela, that offers HIV/AIDS education and treatment, and Farr SA, which combats alcohol abuse and foetal alcohol syndrome on farms and in rural areas.
Many farmers also enter into sustainable partnerships with their workers. On the farm Achtervlei in the Western Cape, the farm’s jam factory provides quality products to some of our leading retail groups. The jam produced at Achtervlei is based on a traditional recipe provided by the 90-year old grandmother of one the farm workers. In the Eksteenskuil area near Keimoes around 100 emergent farmers are now producing export quality raisins on approximately 520 hectares of land.
This community’s annual income has grown by R26.4 million and their household income by R6,6 million. The Keimoes project provides silent witness to how win-win partnerships between farmers and other role players promote wellbeing and, eventually, create greater prosperity.
In the Western Cape, the provincial government has, for years, sponsored the Farm Worker of the Year Award and people like Jan Boland Cotzee and Beyers Truter – to cite just two examples – have for decades had social upliftment programs on their farms which are, in every way, exemplary and compare with the best in the world.
Across the country our food providers are struggling to cope with setbacks like drought and avian flu.
Their numbers have declined drastically since the ANC did away with the commando farm protection system and, to make them more vulnerable to attack, and, as a matter of de facto policy, deliberately reneged on an undertaking to replace it with a system of equivalent efficacy.
This unspeakably evil strategy was summed up in a 2013 Afriforum press release:
In 2003 former President Thabo Mbeki announced against all expectations that the commando system would be abolished and replaced by a structure which would be controlled by the police (this promise has to this day not been fulfilled).
This decision was motivated by ethnic hatred and, as always in the ANC’s glorious National Democratic Revolution, it is the poor that suffer. The ANC elite’s food bill is, in substantial measure, funded by the taxpayer as are the bodyguards who protect them from the people’s wrath.
In the Western Cape the ANC has, because the province is governed by an opposition party, gone over to outright sabotage and, in this regard, it is supported by the ANC’s Fake News outlets which use brazen falsehoods to undermine local food producers.
Land claims and threats of farm expropriation do not encourage further investment – money that farmers could spend on protecting themselves against constant threats to their lives.
Here’s a brief chronology of recent farm murders that took place within just three days:
30/10/2017 Vryheid: Bokkie Potgieter (73) hacked to death with a panga, his face so badly mutilated that he was unrecognisable
31/10/2017 Fochville: Willie Barnard (57) fatally shot
31/10/2017 Griekwastad: Willem van der Westhuizen (35) fatally shot
31/10/2017 Ficksburg: Barry Baars (55) fatally shot
2/11/2017 Ficksburg: Arend Corbett (26) shot in the face and one of his employees, Lenyara Tostetsi stabbed
Unsurprisingly our farmers are giving up their vocation or emigrating in increasing numbers – something which further threatens our food security.
As a result of the antipathy of the ANC to our food producers, we now need to import increasing amounts of food at increasing expense. If, as a consequence, you are finding it difficult to feed yourself and your family within your financial means, blame the ANC and the Race Merchants like Kevin Ritchie, editor of The Star who never has a kind word to say about our food providers who are facing huge drought-related challenges and he denigrates them with ethnic slurs like ‘two-tone khaki shirts, kak haircuts and vellies’.
Ritchie says it is ‘crass hypocrisy’ to care about the hundreds of food providers, from the frail aged to babes in arms, who are murdered with bestial savagery – often after prolonged torture lasting from hours to days – and whose brutal deaths are commemorated with white crosses on a farm near Potchefstroom and by a Wall of Remembrance at Nampo Park in Bothaville.
It is outrageous that somebody who harbours such ethnic hatred retains his job, because such sentiments are the antithesis of Nelson Mandela’s goal of nation building through reconciliation and everything in that regard that resonates in our Constitution and in the Freedom Charter.
That he keeps his job is not surprising, however, in that his employer, Dr Iqbal Survé called for a purge of white staff at UCT on 7 April 2015 and, at 50 minutes and 54 seconds of his speech, which was suffused with anti-white antipathy, he expressed the hope that the event was being recorded for posterity.
We saw the consequences for the Zimbabwean economy of ethnic hatred towards white farmers and the start of that process was chillingly described in Paul Moorcroft’s 2012 book, Mugabe’s War Machine:
Now uncontrolled, the invaders swept onto farms, killing animals and destroying crops and burning buildings. Farmers and their families were beaten up and often humiliated; for example, after severe assaults, their heads might be shaved in police stations, their families could be forced to dance and sing in pungwes and the women were threatened with rape. Sometimes they were killed with guns and machetes, often with the police doing nothing, and occasionally participating in the attacks. Over 700 farmers were terrorized into leaving their properties and 135 MDC supporters were killed. Many others were brutalized or maimed. The lessons of the Gukurahundi were re-applied. The trick in voter intimidation was not necessarily to kill people. As Stephen Chan noted succinctly, ‘A dead person has less “multiplier effect” than living ones with tales of horror.’ Much of the seized land ended up with senior members of the army and police. The invasions were ofﬁcially portrayed as the spontaneous combustion of land-hungry peasants, but they were nearly always carefully organized. One of the leading conspirators was once more Perence Shiri, the former Fifth Brigade commander, later head of the air force.
In Zimbabwe 12 white farmers were murdered during Robert Mugabe’s land grab in 2000.
In South Africa, hundreds of white farmers, their wives, children and parents have been slaughtered with less consideration than livestock receives in an abattoir – to the utter indifference of the African National Congress and the Race Merchants.
The silence from the ANC and the Race Merchants about the return of Robert Smith to Lesbury to the gratitude and relief of his former employees is telling.
History, however, has taught us that ethnic hatred, wherever it occurs, exacts an appalling toll.
The ANC and its Race Merchant imbongis seem unable to comprehend this ineluctable principle as they play the race card to distract attention from their almost incomprehensible levels of corruption and administrative incompetence.
The problem they face – as a comment below a Politicsweb article articulated it – is that their insatiable demand for examples of white racism, far exceeds supply and there is no evidence that white South Africans are murdering their black fellow citizens to the extent and with the cruelty that our farmers are experiencing.
Furthermore, survey after survey after survey shows that the average South African pays little heed to the constant efforts by the ANC, its bloated, taxpayer-funded institutions and its Race Merchants to anathematise their white compatriots.
- Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.