KZN farmers fear AfriForums campaign highlighting violation of minority rights

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AfriForum is expected to go on its #TheWorldMustKnow campaign trail next week to lobby support by highlighting what it describes as a violation of minority rights. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Durban – Two KwaZulu-Natal farmers’ organisations have warned that a civil rights group’s campaign could lead to an economic meltdown when potential investors decide to pull out because of fear.

AfriForum was expected to go on its #TheWorldMustKnow campaign trail next week to lobby support from various countries by highlighting what it describes as a violation of minority rights.

Ernst Roets, head of policy, said the campaign has received tremendous support from farmers, including those in KwaZulu-Natal. He said it would focus on the expropriation of land without compensation.

The group would also share a report on farm murders, minority rights and equality, hate speech against minorities, the attack on property rights and heritages of minorities, as well as the phasing out of Afrikaans.

Roets said the campaign would start in Washington, in the US, where AfriFroum intended to meet politicians and government officials before proceeding to South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

Afriforum’s Head of Policy and Action Ernst Roets during the media briefing. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

However, Graham Armstrong, the Upper Midlands Agricultural Transformation Initiative project manager, said although he did not have enough details on the campaign, it might scare away investors. He said farmers were perturbed about the ongoing violence and murders of farmers and staff.

“The world needs to know about farmers’ plight but we just need to be extra careful when going about it. We are not saying it is incorrect what the lobby group is doing, but our economy is at stake. We would not like to end up in the economic doldrums because we scare off investors,” he said.

Armstrong said expropriation of land without compensation would lead to more job losses and a drop in food production. He said the transformation of black farmers to operate viable productive farms was hindered by corruption and lack of a clear policy.

“Changing the Constitution will have far-reaching consequences,” warned Armstrong.

KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) spokesperson Sandy La Marque said the organisation was opposed to the constitutional change. She said the slow pace of land reform related to deficiencies and lack of sustainable support.

She also warned that current landowners should not be required to bear the disproportionate burden of the imperative for land reform in the public interest.

“This will impact commercial farmers, and also render new black farmers vulnerable. If lenders consider the land value to be zero, the collateral base of farmland will be eroded, and farmers will be unable to get production loans,” she said.

La Marque said Kwanalu was engaged in lobbying a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including countries around the world.

The African Farmers’ Association of South Africa’s provincial secretary Thube Zondi said what AfriForum intended to do was equal to economic sabotage.

“This may affect our agri-business when nobody wants to buy our products because of the misleading information,” he said.

Zondi said issues raised by AfriForum would be better resolved internally rather than involving foreign communities.

“Violence and farm murders affect both white and black farmers. It has no colour, but is a societal problem that needs intervention irrespective of race,” Zondi said.

Sunday Tribune

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