Item 467 - Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the Kwazulu/Natal Agricultural Union

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Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the Kwazulu/Natal Agricultural Union


  • 1997-04-24 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Website

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Launch of the Kwazulu/Natal Agricultural Union

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  • English

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Master of Ceremonies;
Premier of the Province of KwaZulu/Natal;

Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs;

Leaders of the organised agriculture in KwaZulu/Natal;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For generations the land has been at the heart of division and conflict in our country. The bitter battles well into this century, across the valleys and the plains of this province, along its rolling hills and its rivers, were essentially about land. Since then, agriculture was divided into White, African and Indian; rich and poor; into a minority that could count on state support and those forced to fend for themselves.

Today's launch of a non-racial unified farmers union is therefore an event of great importance. It both reflects and promotes the deracialising of our agriculture and our society. It makes a positive contribution to the twin goals of reconciliation and reconstruction and I am truly delighted to share the occasion with you.

Let us hope that this sign of growing co-operation between large- and small-scale farmers, following on the formation of a similar union in the Eastern Cape Province, will soon be emulated elsewhere in the country.

It is no easy matter to overcome historical divisions which have prevented people from working together. But the launch of the KwaZulu/Natal Farmers Union will help heal the rifts. It creates the possibility for all farmers to work together to eliminate the inequalities of the past.

There is no doubt that agriculture will benefit from this. But the new union will have to work hard to ensure that it is truly representative and sensitive to different experiences of farming. In pursuing this it will be able to draw on the proud histories of its predecessors.

Through the province, government has assisted this unification with enthusiasm and we will continue to listen carefully to your needs and views. Vigorous dialogue will help us all focus on finding solutions to the deep-seated challenges of productive land-use; rural poverty; security of tenure; labour rights and other matters whose resolution is critical to develop a vibrant agriculture.

Our democratic government has made a priority of addressing the land question. This is a complex and sometimes difficult process, and as we address the inequalities in land ownership, new challenges surface. But we are making progress.

Over 10,000 applications under the Restitution Act have been received and are being processed by the Commission in KwaZulu/Natal. Soon, this bold measure will see land returned to people who were forcibly dispossessed. While this is a sensitive process, restitution is essential to the healing of our country. It is essential to the survival and development of the industry. Through legislation we are addressing the insecure tenure of farm-workers and labour tenants in rural areas. The land redistribution programme is helping tackle rural landlessness, with grants to 80,000 households nation-wide in the pipeline.

Through co-operation and dialogue the difficulties surrounding these programmes should be resolved in the long-term interests of all. Solutions found in this way will bring the benefits of greater harmony in the countryside.

As we promote a healthy, competitive agricultural sector we have left behind the days of protection by price guarantees, credit and input subsidies. Successful farmers, like their counterparts in industry, will be those who seize the opportunities of a competitive, global economy.

The benefits of the new marketing and trade policies are beginning to be felt, in agriculture's one per cent contribution to GDP growth over the last two years, and food inflation below the overall national level. New markets for our agricultural products have opened up, and agreements with the United States and Europe will ensure preferential access for some products.

Your focus on the development of small scale farmers is in line with government policy. As a country we are freeing ourselves of the assumption that only large-scale, capital intensive farming is efficient.

In stimulating greater involvement of small farmers and the rural poor in the growth of agriculture, we are pursuing policies which foster independence from government assistance. A revitalised Land Bank, a reoriented Agricultural Research Council and a transformed Department will help ensure that the potential of all farmers is realised.

Master of ceremonies;

Government's policy initiatives, however sound, will succeed only through the joint efforts of government, farers and the whole rural community. This partnership needs to extend beyond matters directly agricultural.

Over the next few years, we face the challenge of consolidating democratic local government. The Farmers' Union, and other institutions including Traditional Authorities have an important role to play in ensuring democratic and therefore good governance.

Reducing crime is high on all our agendas. Government is aware that crime is causing concern to farmers. Additional resources have been allocated to the police in the national budget. In the current country-wide high-density crime operations involving 10 000 members of the SANDF alongside the police, crimes relating to illegal arms are a priority in KwaZulu/Natal.

The organised farming community has a critical role in crime prevention. This includes ensuring that members of the community work with the police rather than take the law into their own hands.

A lasting solution to this problem depends on the success of our programmes to improve socio-economic conditions. But even in the shorter term an impact can be made by maximising farm employment. In addition, greater involvement of farm workers in management decisions; training of workers; and decent wages, living and working conditions on farms will make for more productive agriculture and more content and stable rural communities.

Ladies and gentlemen.

KwaZulu/Natal is blessed with a wealth of natural resources. In addition to a wide range of agricultural production, there are many opportunities for nature conservation and the development of tourism.

Combining these diverse forms of land usage lies at the heart of the exciting Lubombo development initiative. It will open the way to more intense use of agricultural potential with a focus on exports; promote tourism; and substantially improve the region's infrastructure.

This initiative requires new institutions to assist farmers with marketing, information, technology support and skills transfer. The KwaZulu/Natal Farmers Union is ideally placed to facilitate the co-operation between large and small-scale farmers which is needed to give these institutions a solid foundation.

Critical to the achievement of economic growth are peace, stability and co-operation. We are delighted that the peace process in KwaZulu/Natal has progressed so well, and that co-operation between national and provincial government is thriving. The signing of the Ingonyama Trust Amendment Bill is a shining example of co-operative governance, and of the willingness of political parties to set aside their differences for the good of the country.

In conclusion, may I congratulate the Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs, both National and Provincial, for their efforts in support of farmers. May relations between them and the KwaZulu/Natal Farmers Union grow from strength to strength.

The challenge facing the Union is to help realise the enormous farming potential in the province and achieve economic growth beyond the national average.

Through reconstruction and development rural KwaZulu/Natal could, with your help, become a model to all of South Africa.

I wish your Union all the best in facing the exciting challenges that lie ahead.

I thank you!

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 24/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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