In his state of the nation address, the president said less than 10% of arable land in SA had been transferred to blacks. But he also said 90% of successful land claimants chose money instead of land. This means our present idea of land reform is like trying to fill a bucket with a very big hole in the bottom.
The question is: how much land would have changed hands if all the successful land claimants had chosen the land instead of the money? Modern farming is not about turning cows out to graze and milking them in the morning. It requires huge investments in irrigation schemes, computerised milking parlours, farm machinery and intensive management. It has become a challenging, capital-intensive industry. No wonder land claimants decide to take the cash. They do not have the resources to make the land productive.
The idea of giving 50% of farms to the workers will meet so much resistance and so many legal challenges that there is a danger the whole process of land transformation will grind to a halt. The way forward, surely, is to look at some of the imaginative schemes in which farm workers are allocated shares and become involved in the planning and management of farms. Many of these schemes have been successful and should provide a model for the future. Build on what works.
President, Cape Chamber of Commerce