Picture: David Ritchie/Africa News Agency (ANA)

White farmers in South Africa have benefited from state-backed capacitation in the agricultural sector for centuries at the expense of our people.
Their farming also thrived on the exploitation of blacks, particularly Africans, which lasted for centuries.

Now it appears as if they have a God-given skill to farm.

This hegemonic discourse, which relates to land reform and agriculture in South Africa, shapes their cultural and professional identity as the only race group with the nous to feed the country and to lead economic development through agriculture.

But that is not the case. This discourse simply demonstrates how the system of whiteness was created using the law, education system, churches, the media and other state apparatus to empower them with social, cultural, symbolic and economic capital.

Because of privilege and status, through this capital, legitimised by whiteness, they have been constructed as omnipotent farmers.

The ANC government has the responsibility to deconstruct and change this colonial mentality which has oppressed our people for years, in the process leaving black people, particularly Africans, with an inferiority complex and creating an impression that God did not give them the ability to farm.

To counter this ideological hoax which is perpetuated by white supremacists, some black people need to be reminded of black consciousness and the government needs to capacitate people who benefit from land reform.

Our people need to be rehabilitated from centuries of slavery, oppression and self-harm which is also the cause of greed, theft, thuggery and personal enrichment, as well as mismanagement of resources, among our political leaders.

Until we improve our agricultural capacity - through education and technical training in economics and agriculture - and create a new crop of ethical and intellectual leadership, land reform will remain a failed adventure and will enrich those who are politically connected.

And it will cost the state more resources.

The programme requires the state to find ways of reconciling its redistributionpolicy with its neoliberal economic framework to ensure that land reform does not become an investment risk that interrupts economic development.

One of the ardent supporters of land reform and expropriation of land without compensation, Shimi Letsoalo, says: “If you give me a farm now and don’t train me emotionally, intellectually and technically, I will take 50% of the government grant to buy a car and house. Or maybe go on few holidays.”

Letsoalo’s words generally reflect what happens to an average person benefiting from land reform.

This is partly because the programme of land reform is not connected to the country’s economic agenda.

Metji Makgoba

PhD Commonwealth Scholar

School of Journalism, Media and Culture Cardiff University

The Sunday Independent