RECORD OF THE KWANALU CONGRESS
HELD ON THURSDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2009
AT THE IMPERIAL HOTEL, PIETERMARITZBURG
AGRICULTURE’S ROLE IN THE
ECONOMIC RECOVERY OF SOUTH AFRICA
Congress will explore the challenges and opportunities
Facing agriculture in the current economic climate
As well as the role of our sector in facilitating
Sustainable economic growth.
The Chairman, Mr Robin Barnsley, called the meeting to order and welcomed delegates, guests and the young farmer finalists.
Apologies had been recorded on the attendance register.
3. Scripture reading and prayer
Pastor Denzil Tryon opened Congress with a scripture reading and a prayer. He encouraged farmers to settle down, create stable family lives, ensure a steady food supply and practice equality.
The Chairman thanked Pastor Tryon for the words and the challenge.
The Chairman requested Congress to stand for a moment’s silence in remembrance of those who had lost loved ones as well as those who had been victims of crime since the 2008 Congress.
5. Constitution of Congress
The CEO, Mrs Sandy La Marque, confirmed that notice of Congress had been circulated and with the representative delegates present, Congress was properly constituted.
The CEO said that Messrs Mdu Shabane and Blessing Mphela, both from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform were present and would address Congress at a later stage. Delegates were invited and encouraged to participate in debates.
7. Presidential Address
The Vice-President, Mr Phenias Gumede, took the Chair while the Chairman presented his Presidential Address to Congress. A copy of his address is attached to this report.
The Chairman said it had been a busy and productive year what with the implosion of the global economy and the dramatic reversal in economic trends but also witnessing the peaceful conduct of national elections and the emergence of new political leadership both at provincial and national level.
Kwanalu had actively engaged with leaders in government ensuring that the principles upon which Kwanalu were founded were clearly communicated and understood. These included:
Ensuring the economic sustainability of agriculture
The imperative that the rule of law be observed in all situations
The principle of equity – non racialism.
With regard to land reform, he said that Kwanalu was concerned with the slow pace of the process resulting in severe disruption to the business of agriculture, the potential for social discord and unrest and the undermining of the broader economy.
The present leadership within the Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights had acknowledged the shortcomings and sought the assistance from Kwanalu in addressing these challenges and to this end Kwanalu had participated in discussions aimed at dealing with the problems.
He also stressed concern about the bad handling of legislation in respect of the de-gazetting of restitution claims.
Thankfully the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had indicated the importance of agriculture and particularly commercial agriculture and committed herself to supporting the elimination of factors hindering the prosperity of the sector.
He said Kwanalu had as its underlying principle the economic sustainability of the sector and economy as a whole and conduct within the rule of law. It firmly supported market mechanisms being the foundation of settling the land reform process and would continue to be extremely vigilant with regard to any attempts to vitiate the rights of landowners.
As far as the price of food and related commodities was concerned, Kwanalu was invited to participate in discussions aimed at determining the cause and impact of the increases and measures that could be taken to address commonly held concerns whereafter it was agreed that this would be investigated by a qualified task team to ensure that any malpractices were uncovered.
Municipal property rates continued to dominate the Agenda and action in the high court will continue. Kwanalu would continue to lobby and make use of the courts where appropriate to ensure that the sustainability of agriculture was not threatened through the ill-informed and disingenuous conduct of municipal councils.
After many years of effort, the re-establishment of the Development Desk had taken place in the form of the KwaZulu-Natal Organised Agriculture Development Desk. Staff members had been recruited and hopefully emerging farmers across the province would improve themselves through this initiative.
He said that criminality took the form of, amongst others, common petty theft or more serious issues and it was gratifying to note the seriousness with which such criminality was viewed. It was vital that farmers actively co-operated and positively interacted with the SAPS at a local level.
Economically, the past year had witnessed turmoil virtually unprecedented in living memory. Prices of agricultural commodities had peaked at all time highs and the global economy had slipped into a recession.
The Chairman felt that these events provided Kwanalu with a unique opportunity to lobby government for the right type of support measures. Agriculture had been pushed to the top of the global agenda as a result of the food, economic and energy crises.
He said that the current administration under the leadership of President Zuma viewed commercial agriculture as the cornerstone of South Africa’s and Africa’s economy.
Correctly implemented, core strategies offered much hope for a bright future for all.
He thanked the CEO and staff, his Vice-Presidents and the members of Kwanalu for their support.
He said that Kwanalu was a dynamic and professional organisation with a positive outlook and future oriented attitude and approach.
Mr Gumede thanked everyone for attending Congress. He said the Chairman had highlighted very important issues. The new Minister had indicated that she would attempt to eliminate problems in agriculture. He made mention of the Development Desk and encouraged farmers to work together.
He thanked the Chairman for his address and proposed the adoption thereof.
8. Strategic plan 2008/2009
The CEO presented a review of what Kwanalu had been involved in over the 2008/2009 year. A copy of her presentation is attached to this report.
Mrs La Marque told the meeting that a number of surveys had been conducted to ascertain where the organisation was going. One of these was membership methodology.
She made mention of the Kwanalu website which was fully operationally and where members could obtain documents and other information relevant to the agricultural sector.
Five priority areas that had been dealt with over the past year were land reform, government (import, protection, policies, and attitude), infrastructure and resources, profitability of agriculture and crime.
She made mention of the Development Desk as well as Land issues. She thanked members who had submitted their responses to the questionnaire.
Mrs La Marque said that government should realise that farmers were contributing to the social upliftment of their employees very significantly.
She touched on some of the events that had taken place over the past year, namely the Young Farmer Competition and the Ladies Day.
In response to a question in a survey of whether farmers would be prepared to farm in the future and whether farmers felt they had a future in farming, the majority answered in the affirmative. Farmers looked forward to playing a role going forward and to the challenges facing them.
The Chairman thanked the CEO for her report.
9. Financial Statements year ending 30 June 2009
The CEO said that the audit had been completed and copies of the financials had been posted to delegates. She presented the audited financial statements to Congress. She reiterated that projects remained in their own cost centre.
10. Annual membership subscription & Budget proposal
The CEO informed Congress that according to the Kwanalu Constitution, the Board of Governors had determined subscriptions for the 2010/2011 year. These would be:
Commercial farmers (including Vat) – R1 385.10 if received by 30 September 2010 or R1 470.60 if received thereafter
Part time / smallholder farmers (including Vat) – R695.40 if received by 30 September 2010 or R735.30 if received thereafter
Previously disadvantaged farmers (including Vat) – R188.10
The budget approved by the Kwanalu Board of Governors for 2010/2011 was presented to Congress.
The Chairman thanked the CEO for her report and stressed that Farmers’ Associations should ensure that farmers were in their correct categories and that there were no free riders.
Dr Fakude enquired about the membership fee but he was advised that it was reflected exclusive of vat.
The Vice-President, Mr Kenny Robinson thanked the CEO and her staff for the manner in which they had handled matters for the farmers of KZN. He also made mention of the free riders and challenged delegates to recruit free riders to become members. He proposed the acceptance of the financials, the budget and the subscriptions. These were seconded and unanimously ACCEPTED.
Young Farmer of the Year 2009
The CEO invited the candidates of the Young Farmer of the Year competition to come to the front of the hall and informed Congress that this competition was in its 6th year. She explained the entry criteria stipulated at national level and said that the winner of the provincial leg would participate in the national competition.
The KZN Young Farmer of the Year would win the Kwanalu Young Farmer of the Year Trophy, a cash prize and other sponsored prizes.
She thanked Toyota for their sponsorship of the competition and Rod Freese who had joined the CEO on the judging trips around the province.
The finalists were:-
Ross Treleaven from Underberg, who ran a large dairy, milking nearly 900 cows twice daily.
Rory Bryden from Kokstad, who ran a dairy milking 1 100 livestock units and had a small beef herd of 180 animals.
Roland Driemeyer from Winterton, who was a crop farmer including seed soyas, commercial soya, seed maize, maize, wheat and vegetables.
Horst Hellberg from Vryheid, who ran a dairy of 2 230 livestock units, had a beef herd, a feedlot with 1 550 livestock units and a timber plantation.
Mrs La Marque said that they had been impressed by the positive attitudes displayed by all the finalists and called on the Chairman and Mr Bill McBride from Toyota to hand over the awards. The winner was announced as Horst Hellberg who would go through to the national competition.
She congratulated the finalists, who received runner-up certificates and goody bags.
Mr McBride said that Toyota wished to inspire young farmers and encourage future young farmers and congratulated Horst Hellberg and wished him well going forward to the national competition.
The Chairman said that the importance of young farmers could not be emphasised enough as without them, the industry would die.
13. Acknowledgment of Sponsors
The Chairman thanked all the sponsors for their generous donations towards the costs of Congress.
Congress broke for tea.
15. Election of Board of Governor Representatives from Co-operatives, Commodities and Agri Businesses
Of the 10 seats available, 9 nominations had been received to serve on the Board of Governors. The representatives to serve on the Board of Governors would be:
Forestry South Africa Medium Growers Group
KZN Commercial Poultry Producers Association
KZN Cotton Growers Association
KZN-Red Meat Producers Organization
Milk Producers Organization
SA Cane Growers Association
University of KZN
16. Address by Messrs Mdu Shabane and Blessing Mphela, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
The Chairman said that as land issues and land reform were of vital importance to farmers, Messrs Mdu Shabane and Blessing Mphela had been invited to address delegates. Firstly, he introduced Mr Mdu Shabane to the meeting.
Mr Shabane thanked the Chairman for inviting him to address Congress. He told Congress that his Department were endeavouring to go around the country to see what the problems were and to try and find solutions going forward. He stressed that in this regard, government needed organised agriculture to partner with it to succeed.
He said that there had been wide coverage in the media that the government had put a moratorium on land distribution and he wanted to stress that this was not so. Government were pursuing the 30% target.
One thing that was being examined was how land was being restored to people and the way of the past was not the correct way. A support system was essential. Landlessness, which was a result of poverty, was a specific need and this would be targeted and agriculture would fall into this bracket as well.
He said that the land distribution programme was not trying to get farmers off the land but trying to address poverty and landlessness.
In the past, emerging farmers had not received post settlement support and energy and attention needed to be directed in that area. Government had people on leased land but the Department had to find ways of supporting them.
He said that in KZN a special purpose vehicle (SPV) had been initiated to assist cementing the bond between government and the private sector in uplifting post settlement support.
Mr Shabane said that studies had been carried out on land redistributed to ascertain where failures had occurred and what the challenges were. He said that the challenges faced by government were a new government with a new mandate that wanted to do things differently. Only a certain number of applications for land could be processed and landowners needed to be advised if their land fell outside of the processed ones. He said that with the claims in the cane and timber industry, there were insufficient funds in the financial year to pay out these claims.
He urged organised agriculture to formalise a partnership with the Department with a systematic plan and strategy which was forward looking. He concurred that in the past the Department had not received the full value for the money spent and going forward urged that organised agriculture and the Department work together to get better value for their money.
The Chairman thanked Mr Shabane for being truthful with the farmers and introduced Mr Blessing Mphela to Congress.
Mr Mphela said the vision of restitution was to ensure stability but most of the policy objectives cultivated by government had not been achieved.
He said that the restitution process was one of three legs, namely land reform, agrarian transformation and rural development.
He said that the Department had a good chance of turning things around in KZN and were focussing on settling outstanding claims. Problems set in when claims were gazetted, which resulted in landowners being hamstrung and they could not progress with agriculture. The situation, where claims needed to be de-gazetted, needed to be reviewed.
He said that there were 1 409 outstanding claims in the province and capacity was a problem. He said it was not in the interests of anyone, including government to accept claims that were not warranted or legitimate.
Mr Mphela said that budget constraints, which were a challenge, required innovation.
He appealed to farmers and partners to put their heads together and to find a new way forward.
The Chairman thanked Mr Mphela for his address and opened the floor to questions.
The following questions were asked and the representatives from the Department then responded:-
Who were the landless people to which the Department referred?
How much effort has been made as no support had been given?
When would there be a Commissioner in KZN?
Could the Department come up with a suggestion for the situation relative to budget constraints?
Mr Shabane said that the landless people were not small scale farmers.
In the past, land reform had focused on distribution. With the new government, the Department was targeting small scale farmers to provide them with support.
The Department was looking at getting a Commissioner dedicated to the province
The Department was looking at different ways of acquiring land from private landowners.
Mr Gumede asked what the SPV was doing to ensure that the land was being used productively. If a community was given land, they should utilize the land to supply the community and the farmers should be evaluated by the Department so they could eventually become commercial farmers.
Dr Fakude asked, once the land had been procured, to which Department was the owner referred for post settlement support? Mr Shabane said that in the past, this had not been addressed, but now the Department of Rural Development was responsible for this role.
The Chairman said that urgent talks needed to take place. Farmers knew what the issues were and they did not want the previous Commissioner back. He proposed an urgent meeting between the Department and Kwanalu to address these problems.
17. Address by Prof Dirk Kotze, Chairman of the Department of Political Sciences at UNISA
“The broad political environment and what it means for agriculture”
The Chairman introduced Prof Dirk Kotze to the meeting.
Prof Kotze said that it was a tough task to talk about politics in agriculture.
He said that points relevant to agriculture were:-
To identify the context into which the political situation was taking place and understand it, namely it was a new government in a new era with not the same continuity;
The current economic recession presented agriculture with a view to re-evaluate the South African economy;
Re-assess international trade. A new dispensation would have to be developed with a sense of protection for the local economy;
There were new regional and global concerns like global warming/climate change which would have a direct effect on agriculture and how to deal with it. New demands would be placed on the agricultural sector, both internationally and locally. The emergence of Angola which was trying to position itself against South Africa. It had strong bargaining power and strategically it was more important.
These factors created challenges politically.
With regard to the relevance for the agricultural sector politically, he said that the new government was trying to bring back the values from the Mandela era. The Mbeki period centred more on policy development and implementation whereas with the new government, policies were being evaluated, monitored and revisited.
He said that President Zuma wanted to attach himself to ANC history. His government had a broader alliance with half from the Mbeki camp and the other half from outside.
He asked the question: Who controls the government and who were the key players in policy making? There were no Youth League members in the government, two members from Cosatu and all the rest were Communist, except one. In this way, the autonomy of the Communist Party was compromised as these members would not be able to articulate the aims of the Communist Party. There was a substantial overlap between the ANC and government and with the ANC being busy with government policy the weight had shifted to government. He said that President Zuma and the two Ministers in his office were in charge.
Government wanted continuity and were mandated to perform policy decided at Polokwane. A new characteristic of government was parliament being more prominent. Portfolio committees were more assertive and they were the entry point for lobbying.
He said that the new Green Paper was compulsory reading to get an idea of government’s objectives. With the Planning Function and National Planning Commission government wanted to introduce long term planning of how they wanted to plan policy making and policy co-ordinating. With the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, it appeared as though government wanted to introduce performance testing, indicating that government was keen on improving government, especially service delivery.
In the past agriculture was seen through the lens of land reform with land been seen as the most important object to address poverty alleviation. A paradigm shift had developed. Land reform was now seen as an aspect of rural development rather than an agricultural issue. Commercial agriculture had received emphasis as a source of food security. This created a new strategic opportunity for agriculture with growth potential lying in agricultural areas.
The Chairman thanked Prof Kotze for his address.
18. Address by Prof Andre Jooste, Senior Manger: Market and Economic Research Centre National Agricultural Marketing Council
“An economic view and outlook in the context of the congress theme”
The Chairman introduced Prof Jooste to the meeting. A copy of his presentation is attached to this report.
Prof Jooste said that realities had to be assessed. With the changes in power relationships, Russia presented huge opportunities for South Africa. How China had exploded, changed the global situation and trade policy thinking. Realities created opportunities.
South Africa needed to take note of softening approaches towards subsidies and social grants. There were challenges over the next five years for all farmers.
Food prices were at a new level. Fundamentals had caused the food price hike but when the recession was over, fundamentals would remain and so would the higher food prices.
He asked if it was profitable for farmers to farm. He said that if South African produced shortages, that created regional instability. The challenge was how to produce enough food to feed everyone.
Agriculture was a net exporter of primary agricultural products and a net importer of processed food. Net farming income had gone sideways over the past years.
The challenge was to create an environment where investment was positive. If farmers had not expanded their production, consumers would have paid much more for maize.
Commenting on some commodities, Prof Jooste said that wheat prices had remained the same but plastics and pulp prices had risen and never returned to their old level.
He said that too little effort was being made to get potential young farmers into agriculture.
The Chairman thanked Prof Jooste for his address.
He called on Mr Jannie Boshoff to say grace before proceeding to lunch.
20. Election of Office Bearers by Board of Governors
During the lunch break, the Board of Governors met to elect the President and two Vice-Presidents.
President : Mr Robin Barnsley
Vice-President : Mr Phenias Gumede
Vice-President : Mr Rod Freese
21. Land Reform success presentation by Melmoth Farmers’ Association
The Chairman invited Mr Victor Smith to address Congress on their land reform success story.
Mr Smith said they had been in the area for five generations. They had been all over the world and home was where the heart was. He said that the farm had been bought by four trusts and the project had 25 000 community members, dependant on the co-operative.
They were partnered by various organisations and the key ingredient to overcome obstacles was communication.
He encouraged farmers to find a contact in the Department of Land Affairs and make contact.
He thanked Kwanalu for acting as a communication between government and the farmers.
The Chairman thanked Mr Smith for his address.
“Criminal activity on farms is causing substantial financial loss to the sector while also undermining the confidence, pride and dignity of farmers and the broader rural community.
Congress believes that the relevant authorities, political and community leaders should play an overt and active role in opposing the alarming increase in such activity which amounts to a creeping invasion and subversion of the rights of law abiding citizens.”
The Chairman welcomed Senior Police officials, members from the Justice Department and Prosecution officials to the meeting.
The CEO took the meeting through some statistics which revealed that KZN was greatly affected by criminal activity on farms. She said that some of the challenges were:-
Crime was high;
It affected the ability to conduct business;
There was a subversion of the rights of citizens;
There was moratorium on the recruiting of reservists
Sector policing was not effective enough
SAPS was under-resourced
Court rolls were overloaded with cases
Cases took too long to appear in court
Prisons were full
Easy bail and parole was granted
The true commercial value was not captured
Victims did not report all crimes
The Chairman introduced Mr Scot Scott to the meeting. Mr Scott from Izotsha Farmers’ Association said that farming was more dangerous than jumping out of helicopters. He said that it was perceived that stealing from supermarkets was a bigger crime than stealing from farms. People arrived on farms without permission and took whatever they wanted. He felt that there was a disregard for private property. He felt that trespassing should be regarded as a serious crime and punished severely.
He proposed the adoption of the resolution.
Mr Gunther Meyer from Kranskop Farmers’ Association seconded this proposal. He said that grazing started with one stray cow until a whole herd of 100 strong was grazing on a farmer’s land. Herdsmen no longer carried cattle whips, but AK 47 rifles.
He said that when a farm became invaded and no one wanted it, not even the Department of Land Affairs. He felt that crimes of this nature should be addressed at its source.
With his explanation, he seconded the proposal.
The Chairman opened the floor for discussion.
Mr Harold Niebuhr from Paulpietersburg/Luneburg Farmers’ Association addressed Congress. He said that the Farmers’ Association fully supported the principle that the law should follow its course when citizens broke the law and that the right of law abiding citizens be protected.
With regard to alleged atrocities against farm workers and farm dwellers, he said that written statements were being collected. He found it strange that the Chief Director of Land Affairs would visit the area to form an opinion and farmers would not be invited to the meeting. Paulpietersburg/Luneburg Farmers’ Association had been very proactive in developing a land reform plan until everything had been put on hold. He said that the impounding of cattle which caused substantial damage to crops was viewed as an atrocity against farm dwellers, whilst the damage caused by those same cattle, should be condoned by the farmer. These and other instances have occurred in the area.
He said that farmers had stopped reporting all cases as it was uneconomical to spend six days at court waiting for a case to be heard. He said that there was an open invitation for interested parties to visit and form their own opinion.
In closing, he supported the resolution.
Mr George Edlmann from Beaumont-Eston Farmers’ Association said that more attention needed to be given to trespassing, hunting with dogs and snares which would cut down on farm crimes.
The resolution was unanimously CARRIED.
23. Mr Theo de Jager, Vice-President, Agri SA
The Chairman introduced Mr de Jager to Congress.
Mr de Jager used the analogy of Red Riding Hood and the Three Pigs and said that farmers had to design their own endings. There was a solution to problems and that was involvement. He encouraged farmers to nurture the idea of a network, which should protect the farmer and farmers were either part of that network or not. He envied KZN its leadership.
The Chairman thanked Mr de Jager for his words and for attending Congress.
Mr Barnsley said that this would be his last year as President. The organisation was strong and growing. Kwanalu knew what it was doing and he emphasised again the effort members should make to eliminate free riders. A lot of work had been done that added value to the organisation.
He thanked the delegates, speakers, staff, media, translators and sponsors and thanked everyone for their participation.
Mr Robinson thanked the Chairman for the service he had rendered to the farmers of KZN and said that the farmers appreciated the time he dedicated to Kwanalu. He congratulated Mr Freese on his election as Vice-President. He then closed Congress with a prayer.
P O Box 100123
Tel: 033-342 9393
Fax: 033-345 7141
18 September 2009
AFTER CONGRESS NOTE
The election of the Management Committee took place at the Board Meeting after Congress. Together with the President and Vice-Presidents, the following were elected onto Manco:-
Mr Christopher Hadebe
Mr Dougal MacLean
Mrs Queen Ngwenya
Mr Scot Scott
Phone: +27 33 3429393
Fax: +27 33 3457141
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