ANC government finally admits that it is responsible for the failure of land reform farmers

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
26 Sep 2022 in News

In a response to a DA parliamentary question, the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (DALRRD) and Land Reform has finally admitted that the ANC government is responsible for the failure of over 1 700 farmers who have been given 30 year leases on state owned farms under the Proactive Land Acquisition (PLAS) programme, due to lack of after-settlement support.

As the DALRRD gets ready to submit its budget estimates for the 2023 national budget, the DA will be submitting an advisory note where we will ask that the Department shifts funds away from expenditure items such as external consultants, travel and subsistence, towards increased support for farmers.

Oblivious to its own poor budget prioritization, the Department admitted that PLAS farmers were failing because of “…limited or lack of government support in terms of funding and technical expertise…”. This is the clearest admission yet by the Department that the ANC government has neglected the land reform process to the point where most resettled farmers are on the verge of operational failure.

The Department attributes this lack of support to insufficient capacity and budget but conveniently neglects to mention that it has has spent close to R500 million on travel and subsistence in the past five years. While the Department spends hundreds of millions of rand flying and staying in fancy hotels, the budget for ‘Farmer support and development’ has been decreasing since 2017. In 2022, the Department is on course to spend 9% less in 2022 than it did in 2017 providing support to farmers.

At a time when the cost of food is rising and placing many households in danger of food poverty, the ANC government is scaling back its financial support to farmers. The impact if this ill-advised scale-back from supporting farmers by the ANC government has been immediate, with the Department itself admitting that it has resulted in:

  • lack of capital to fund operations and inputs, which lead to underutilisation of farms;
  • lack of market access for their produce;
  • lack of production skills;
  • inability to pay rent;
  • inability to pay for water usage and electricity; and
  • inadequate infrastructure;

This grim outlook for PLAS farmers has exposed the undeniable fact that the ANC’s push for expropriation of land without compensation is nothing more than an attempt to mask its land reform failures and shift the blame away from itself. The DALRRD needs to understand that its first responsibility is protecting South Africa’s food security rather than making taxpayer funded flights and hotel stays.