Minister says farmers’ protests are not an attack on government
On Monday, Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said the #BlackMonday farmers’ protests were "not an attack on government".
Speaking in Durban on Monday at the third Africa-Wide Agricultural Extension Week conference‚ a multi-stakeholder forum aimed at implementing smart agricultural initiatives in light of the effects of climate change‚ he said: "I hope beyond this march we will be calling its leaders to meet. We are saying to them, let us not politicise this matter."
The minister went on to say "criminals do not belong to politics‚ they belong to themselves" and urged government departments and farmers associations to work together to isolate criminals.
Meanwhile, sugar farmers in northern KwaZulu-Natal who didn’t participate in the protest‚ said they supported the campaign. Sugarcane farmer Roy Nohari‚ a member of the Tongaat Mill Group‚ said while they were unable to get to Estcourt‚ many of their members wore black in solidarity with the campaign.
"There have been at least two murders in the farming community on the North Coast. We are constantly on the lookout for criminals and are particularly vulnerable to attacks because we are isolated," Nohari said many of the farmers hired private security companies to protect themselves, yet they still didn’t feel safe.
Another KwaDukuza sugarcane farmer‚ who asked not to be named‚ said he supported the campaign and that it was not only aimed at preventing attacks on white farmers.
"We live and work very far from where the action took place today‚ but we supported the campaign because we are all at risk, irrespective of your colour. It’s very important to us because we all collectively are responsible for food security in this country. These rampant farm attacks are senseless and in the end it harms everybody. If we go out of business‚ who will be responsible for farming the crops and providing the livestock?"
Former farmer Madhun Sobram Sing‚ a councillor in KwaDukuza‚ gave up farming after an attack: "Government is doing very little with the ongoing farm attacks. Food security and livelihood of farmers is threatened. To push out farmers would cost the country dearly in the long term. I left farming because the safety of my family is of paramount importance."