“We need a land Codesa”
Agricultural land must be expropriated, but the state must do so through compensating farmers that own the land to avoid an economic meltdown.
This is the view of the National African Farmers Union (NAFU), which has the issue of land as the centre of its struggle since its formation in 1991.
NAFU President Matsepe Matlala shared his organisation’s position amid the national debate around the issue of land. Earlier this year, Parliament setup a Constitutional Review Committee – a multiparty parliamentary ad hoc body – to traverse the country and canvass views of the citizens on land expropriation without compensation.
Matlala said since the union was formed 27 years ago, they have engaged successive governments to secure access to land for their members.
“The objective of Nafu is to represent the needs of its members by lobbying government to give us land and also negotiating with the banks to fund our farming activities,” he said.
But he since their representations had yielded no positive outcomes, they resolved to support and adopt expropriation. “It is a position we have adopted long before it became fashionable and a national preoccupation,” said Matlala.
The “Codesa” should be drawn from farmers, academics, government officials, political parties and land experts. Matlala said the benefits of nationalisation with payment are that no farmer loses the land as the bonds would be paid up and the banks would also get their return on investment, resulting in a win-win situation.
“Ours was targeted at specific pieces of land, particularly the land belonging to absentee landlords, arable land used for holidays and recreational purposes and that which lay fallow,” explained Matlala.
When the issue resurfaced recently, Nafu decided to seize the moment and make their submission. “We saw this as a rare opportunity. We submitted our well-researched and evidence-based paper to the [Parliamentary] committee. We feel this will form part of the solutions and alternatives that the country needs on how to address the land question.
“In our view, white people do not want to accept the fact that the land was taken by force from the black majority. If we insist on expropriating their land by force, what would happen to South Africa? We feel [expropriation without compensation] is neither practical nor feasible. It is economically flawed, will cause serious economic instability and worse still, is likely to lead to war,” argued Matlala.
The state would however have to pay for the land. This, to avert an economic meltdown.
“We believe the current economic prosperity and stability must be maintained and improved.” Matlala believes the country should convene an ‘Land Codesa’ to look at the issue of the land and thrash out modalities and details relating to how government should compensate those whose land would have been expropriated.
Their position was not driven by populism and political expediency, rather it was grounded on their lived experiences and reality as the farmers. This has since evolved and they have since adopted nationalisation as the viable option.
“We know,” said Matlala, “this is an unpopular concept. But we are convinced it is the most practical and effective mechanism poor and landless black majority can access land.
A social media comment by a young entrepreneur has sparked a new debate over whether young businesspeople have a sense of entitlement or if the state has an obligation to help out.
Sibusiso Ngwenya (27), owner of the sock brand, Skinny Sbu Socks started a national debate when he announced the he needed the state to give him a R5-million bailout for his struggling socks business.
“HONESTLY I feel like giving up now – I’ve used all I have, sold my car to save the business, use my personal cash I make from speaking & endorsements to grow this sock business. Things are not as fancy. I’M TIRED, I’M DRAINED, I’M JUST HERE…” Ngwenya said in a tweet.
He subsequently spoke to SABC News on the struggles entrepreneurs face when their businesses are not doing well.
Ngwenya said having to take the business, currently in its fifth year, to the next level contributed to what went wrong.
“I am dealing with 20 national stores… from my pocket and I have to feed that animal. The bigger the business grows, the more it demands of your money to speak to a national audience. I have to make the socks myself, I have to design them, I have to distribute them, I have to market them and that is a very expensive exercise.
“I’m not selling a product people necessarily need.”
“You know what small businesses need? We need money. We need the government to create an environment for us where we are able to easily access money.
Ngwenya’s comments question whether programmes already in place to meet the needs of young entrepreneurs are adequate. For example, the National Youth Development Fund exists precisely to help the likes of Ngwenya.
According to the NYDA website, the criteria to be used for a person to get the grant are:
- Are youth (18-35 yrs.) with necessary skills, experience or; with the potential skill appropriate for the enterprise that they conduct or intend to conduct;
- Are South African citizens, are resident within the borders of South Africa and members of the entity should comprise 100% South African citizen;
- Requires the grant for business start-up or growth.
- Business are operating within the borders of South Africa;
- Are involved in the day-to-day operation and management of the business;
- Must be willing to join the business on a full-time basis;
- Operate either informally or formally; generally recognised as micro enterprises (e.g. street traders, vendors, emerging enterprises);
- Have a profit motive and are commercially viable and sustainable;
- For groups they must have or be willing to form a group of minimum 5 persons.
Not everyone is impressed or sympathetic to the Skinny Sbu creator/
In his response to Ngwenya’s trending interview Mushambi Mutuma, who is a thought leader and speaker on business and entrepreneurship, did not mince his words, saying entrepreneurs need to stop asking for money or expecting it.
“As entrepreneurs we really need to stop asking for money or expecting it. Firstly, it’s not actually what your business needs today. Funding with no consumer base, no brand trust, no plans for scale; is all pointless.
“Funding isn’t going to save you. Sell your way to the funds you need. Funding makes so much sense when you have traction and need it for growth. So perhaps with the same energy you demand the world to give you cash, convince them to rather want to buy from you,” said Mutuma in one of hundreds of responses to Ngwenya.