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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid