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The 3rd Land Imbizo held on 26 February 2015 at the Gordon Institute for Business Science, Johannesburg, provided an important communication mechanism for leading agricultural role-players to engage in frank dialogue with the leadership of the ruling party on agricultural and land reform matters.The event was organised by the Standard Bank Centre for AgriBusiness Development and Leadership, Stellenbosch University and the "In Transformation Initiative" of Roelf Meyer.The Imbizo was started with personal introductions, followed by an opening statement by Mr. Mantashe, presentations of land reform initiatives in progress and a general discussion. Mr Mantashe wrapped up the event.
The following was stressed by Mr. Mantashe in the opening statements. He:
Reiterated that the ANC is thoroughly aware of the agricultural sector's importance as food provider but stressed that land is also an emotive matter. He stressed the importance of making significant progress on transforming land ownership in a controlled and rational way in order to achieve both objectives. A failure to do so will result in the emotive side overrunning all other considerations, ultimately resulting in a too rapid social transformation at the expense of food production.
Stressed the importance of working together to make land reform work, moving beyond plans and theoretical models; but rather through operational partnerships grounded in practical plans by commercial farmers, highlighting projects such as those in the Witzenberg and Mopani districts as examples
He also stressed the importance of commercial growers in helping black people to re-establish their relationship with the land and helping them in being able to produce themselves; and
- That the perception of moving targets should not be seen in term of the numbers per se but rather to illustrate the ANC's attempts at finding workable solutions. The principle of testing and implementing various plans in partnership should be taken to heart.
The participating commercial farmers stressed the following:
There is a massive amount of goodwill from farmers and a willingness to work together with numerous successful projects serving as examples – some were presented at the Imbizo.
Current or possible projects are often hampered by government departments not approving plans timeously or not collaborating, for example access to water for irrigation farming projects.
The tenure insecurity of transferred land hinders the raising of working capital and consequently impacts negatively on the viability of empowerment projects. Possible solutions should be sought.
- The perception of moving targets adds a large amount of uncertainty that discourages new investment. Clarity is needed i.e. "what are the rules of the game for all parties involved"?
The open, sometime terse exchanges at the 3rd Land Reform Imbizo established a good rapport and substantial good-will between the ruling party and the leading commercial farmers, who in turn strongly voiced their willingness to partner with government to make land reform work. The need was raised for the establishment of a OPERATION PHAKISA type of organisational intervention for agriculture (albeit with a different name) and the establishment of a 'war-room' for a concerted 'all-of-government' approach to land reform and agricultural development in collaboration with leaders in commercial agriculture. On Mr Mantashe's specific request, Mr Roelf Meyer and Prof Mohammad Karaan were requested to jointly ensure that further dialogue is facilitated and, using the resources of the 'In Transformation Initiative' and the Stellenbosch University's Standard Bank Centre, a central point will be created whereby further steps can be coordinated and resources applied to the matters at hand.
This programme focuses on leadership development in the agricultural sector through the staging of "Agri-Leadership Imbizos". Prominent agri-leaders and opinion makers are invited to discuss "hot topics" in agricultural transformation in a "laboratory setting" to stimulate "out-of-the-box" debate and discussion in the attempt to develop new solutions. Only consensus statements ("one-pagers") are formally published on the Centre's website and are communicated to institutions such as the National Planning Council, various representative groups in agriculture, government agencies and other relevant public bodies. Inputs were also made to, and accommodated in the National Development Plan. To date, twelve Imbizos have been held, covering topics such as:
- Land reform and agricultural development;
- Job creation in agriculture;
- Unity and cooperation in SA agriculture;
- Where to with black commercial farmers?
- Water and agriculture
- Four "Young Leaders Laboratories" were presented in collaboration with Standard Bank, GrainSA and Santam Agri; and
- An Imbizo was held in June 2012 at the request of the secretary-general of the governing party to discuss agricultural matters with leading South African commercial farmers.