Land reform through real empowerment, not slogans

Issued by Mmusi Maimane – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
01 May 2018 in News

Note to editors: the following remarks were delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, at a Workers’ Day celebration with farm workers in Wellington in the Western Cape today who have benefitted from the farm equity share schemes that the DA has championed in government. The Leader was joined by DA Western Cape Provincial Leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela, DA Western Cape Deputy Provincial Leader, Albert Fritz, and Constituency Head and West Regional Chairperson, Erik Marais

My fellow South Africans

There is an old African proverb that you may have heard before. It is a proverb that speaks of the value of teamwork and collaboration. This proverb says: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Standing here on this particular farm on Workers’ Day, I am reminded of the truth in this proverb. Because what you see on this farm, and the other farms that make up the Bosman-Adama equity share scheme, is proof of what can be achieved when we pool our resources as a nation and try to find solutions together. We can go far.

The workers benefitting from this scheme will go far because this is a project aimed at real, long-term empowerment of individuals. This is not about populist sound bytes. This is not EFF and ANC-style sloganeering around land expropriation without compensation.

This is how you make land reform work for the people rather than for the parties chanting the slogans.

In 2008, 260 workers were each given over R100,000 worth of shares in this equity scheme. The very next year they received their first dividends, and have been doing so every year since. Today the business has grown to include 450 permanent workers.

This is not some quick-fix solution by national government where land beneficiaries are left on their own to either sink or swim. And, believe me, most of them sink – the ANC’s land reform projects have a staggering 90% failure rate.

This is not some crony-benefitting racket where friends and family members of those in power score themselves big land deals with no intention of ever farming the land.

This is a plan that gives the people who work the land a stake in the business. It ensures that this new ownership comes with real skills transfer. It ensures that these new share owners are seen as partners, with open communication channels, regular meetings and joint decision making.

It also provides a comprehensive social development plan for the residents of the farm, including housing, clinics, crèches, school transport, bursaries and old age housing.

This is the kind of land reform that has seen six out of ten such programmes in the Western Cape succeed, while nine out of ten land reform programmes attempted by national government have failed.

The difference between what the DA is doing and what national government is doing comes down to the intentions. The DA intends for land reform to be empowering to the individual beneficiaries, with long-term sustainable benefits.

National government intends for land reform programmes to tick boxes and make up numbers. It’s about short cuts and quick fixes. As soon as the deal is done, the beneficiary is abandoned.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

The irony in all of this is that it is the DA who stands accused of opposing redress on land. Because we voted against the EFF’s proposal to dismantle part of the Constitution to allow for land grabs, they tried to label us as “anti-redress”.

The notion that anyone who stands opposed to the EFF’s land expropriation without compensation is also opposed to land reform is nonsense. And this needs to be said over and over again. We voted against the EFF’s proposal because it will do nothing to empower poor black South Africans. In fact, it will only make them poorer.

You see, by their model, all land will become the property of the state, and no individuals will own anything. This is what they don’t mention in their slogans. But they intend to take away everyone’s property, whether you’re black or white, and make everyone permanent tenants of the state.

That’s not empowerment. That’s just another poverty trap. And it’s also a sure way to chase away any and all investment in this country that could create the jobs we so desperately need.

We voted against their plan because it is a terrible solution to poverty and exclusion. Land reform should be about both justice and economic opportunity. Expropriation without compensation will satisfy neither of these two conditions. It will not return land to the people who were dispossessed, and it will diminish economic opportunities in this country.

We voted against it because we have a far better plan that is already working where we govern.

You’ll notice the ANC voted along with the EFF to scrap Section 25 of the Constitution and open the door for expropriation without compensation. They did so because they knew they had made a mess of land reform for the past 24 years, and they needed a quick way to deflect the attention and blame anything other than themselves.

But the ANC also know it’s a terrible idea, because today you can’t get a straight answer from them on the matter. They can’t tell you whether they plan to change the Constitution. They can’t tell you whether they support expropriation without compensation. They can’t tell you whether they want the state to own the land or whether they want individuals to have full title.

There is only one party that supports true empowerment of the people through real land reform, and that party is the DA. That is why our land reform projects succeed over a long period of time. That’s why the 450 workers in the Bosman-Adama equity share scheme have a bright future to look forward to.

This project here required teamwork. It required a partnership between the original owners of the Bosman Family Vineyards, the farm workers and government. Its success depended on this collaboration. If we want to build a prosperous economy for all, then we have to do it together.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

We will continue to support and roll out projects like these where we govern. We will continue to fight for justice and economic development through land reform without amending the Constitution. We will continue to harness the power of collaboration to unlock opportunities for our people.

Because we believe we are stronger together. We believe in one united South Africa with one shared future.

Thank you.