News / Africa

Black Farmers in South Africa Still Struggling with Land Reform

South Africa's plans to undo the wrongs of apartheid by returning land seized from native blacks is embodied in the life of farmer Koos Mthimkhulu, shown inspecting his crop at his farm in Senekal, February 29, 2012.
South Africa's plans to undo the wrongs of apartheid by returning land seized from native blacks is embodied in the life of farmer Koos Mthimkhulu, shown inspecting his crop at his farm in Senekal, February 29, 2012.
South African President Jacob Zuma revealed another land-reform strategy last week in South Africa, less than two months before the ruling ANC’s party elections.   Land reform was one of the major promises made to the black population after the end of apartheid, but it has not worked out as planned.

Land reform, failing

Solomon Mokwena opens the rusty door of the barn and proudly walks in, showing the farming machines he partly owns.  Ten years ago, the South African government bought the land from a white farmer for distribution to disadvantaged black farmers.  The goal was to reverse the inequalities of the white-minority rule era, when black people were not allowed to own land.

Mokwena and 200 farmers formed a cooperative to manage the land.  The former owner grew maize and sunflowers on the fertile land, but in the past decade, Mokwena says the cooperative's machines have been used only once.

"We did plough once in 2002.  We never ploughed again," he stated.

Mokwena explains the cooperative lacks funds to work the land, to buy seeds, fuel and fertilizer.

The land is now being leased to another farmer, who makes money out of it.  The rent the cooperative receives is just enough to pay the electric bill.

The failure of Mokwena's cooperative is common.  About 90 percent of the farms distributed to black farmers since the launch of land reform 16 years ago are no longer productive.

Michael Zulu is one of the farmers in Mokwena's cooperative.  He had worked in the farming industry for 20 years before joining the cooperative. 

He said he thought his expertise could help the other farmers and make the cooperative work.

But he said the cooperative's management did not pay the bills and set aside enough for the next year's seeds before running out of cash.

He says the first thing to do, after harvesting, is you must start paying the debts, then you put money aside for the seeds for next year, and pay your employees.  That was not done, and the cooperative quickly ran out of money.

When land reform began in the mid 1990s, more than 80 percent of the commercial farms in South Africa were owned by white farmers.  The ruling ANC party had promised to redistribute one-third of them to black farmers by 2014.  Today, less than eight percent of the land has been redistributed, and the land reform minister has admitted the target will not be reached.

Increased competition

Senior researcher at Cape Town's Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian studies, Ruth Hall, partly explains this failure by the fact that black farmers entering the industry face increased competition.

"South Africa now has a very liberalized economy, in which new black farmers are competing not only with established white farmers, who have had the benefit of learning over time, but also with other producers on the global market," said Hall.

Hall says the government provides some training, but this only reaches one percent of the farmers.

South African President Jacob Zuma announced a new strategy for land reform last week.  Among other measures, he proposes to buy the land from white farmers at 50 percent of the market price, versus 100 percent today.  But many experts have slammed the measures as hazardous and purely political.

Hall says the pressure is high to make land reform work. "Clearly the land reform process, if done right, could substantially improve food security, by promoting different scales and types of production," he added. "But also by broadening it out and making incomes less unequal."

Hall says if the ANC does not seriously tackle land reform, it could affect the party's rule.

Land reform remains a very sensitive problem in South Africa, as the shadow of what happened in neighboring Zimbabwe looms over government policy.  Zimbabwe's once-flourishing agriculture sector collapsed after it forcibly expropriated white farmers.  The ANC Youth league has recently called for the same kind of evictions in South Africa.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Johan du Toit from: Mossel Bay
October 31, 2012 12:04 PM
Read the article again! They formed a cooperative with 200 members for one farm! Michael Zulu is talking about paying the workers! My question is,what is wrong with the 200 farmers,can't they do the work themselves? It seems that there are to many bosses on this farm!


by: Jasper
October 30, 2012 3:19 PM
What about that disasterous Zimbabwe land reform program where many farms were expropriated, which resulted in the deaths of some farmers and thousands of farm workers rendered without employment, not to mention loss of agricultural output and beef herds. The agricultural meltdown has started, how it will be reversed is key to avoiding imminent starvation.


by: KWAME from: GHANA
October 30, 2012 4:59 AM
Let us stop the noise-making and allow the Whites who are better at managing the natural resources do their work.
I hope we learn from them. Zimbabwe and the failure story above should be part of the evidence that should make us repent from our wasteful ways!
What with Heads of States and other leaders spending millions on their birthday parties and multiple marriages when these millions could be spent on educational infrastructure and improvements.
Let us repent from our ways and do the right things and we will make progress. WE NEED TO WORK AND NOT WASTE RESOURCES.
SOUTH AFRICA, REMEMBER ZIMBABWE!


by: Harry Jukes from: South Africa
October 29, 2012 11:39 AM
I would also want to know when the American government is planing to return the land they seized from the Native American
Population and the Australian Government the land they seized from the Aboriginal population??


by: Walter du Toit from: South Africa
October 29, 2012 8:55 AM
When is the American government planning to return the land seized from the Native American population?

In Response

by: Ty Hager from: USA
October 29, 2012 3:03 PM
Its not.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid