Francois Wilken. Photo: Conrad Bornman / Mediaboer
17 August 2018
A watershed congress. Probably the most important in the history of agriculture in South Africa and the Free State. That is how Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture (FSA), described his organization’s annual congress.
According to Wilken, “there is nowhere in the world where farmers have to farm under the same pressures as South African farmers”.
More than 250 guests attended the congress, where land expropriation without compensation was high on the agenda, on 15 and 16 August 2018 in Bloemfontein. The theme was Back to Our Members and farmers had the opportunity to share and debate their concerns with FSA.
Various well known people such as Dr John Purchase, Chief Executive Officer of Agbiz, Theo Venter, Political Analyst at the Business School of the North-West University, Ivor Price, TV presenter, Dan Kriek, President of Agri SA, and Andries Vermeulen, storyteller, were some of the speakers.
Confidence in FSA leaders
Wilken and Tommie Esterhuyse, who was acting as FSA’s President and Vice President the past year, were also elected for a further two-year term.
“We will not allow ourselves to be labelled as the guilty party for everything that went wrong in this country,” Wilken said. According to him, the government failed in many ways.
“If you cannot do as a politician what your voters ask from you, do not shift the blame. If you want to recruit for votes, get it on the right principles and manner.” He said farmers will continue to work hard to put food on the table.
According to him, FSA takes note of the list of farms, which has been published, that may be expropriated and will assist its members. “We want clarity on what exactly expropriation without compensation means? Let’s not speculate in the media, around a braai and on social media. Let’s get the real answers.”
He called on farmers to be more involved, especially in such circumstances. “If you want to stand up and make a point, do not do it on a WhatsApp. Go to your agricultural association and if you feel strongly about a matter, let me know and we’ll put it on the agenda. Then we handle your point constructively: We make a decision and act on it.”
He feels cooperation and various inputs will result in the best solutions. “The time is over when you tell me you do not have time (to give inputs).”
Pay membership because of this
According to Venter, his message was less about politics and more about thinking. He believes it must be emphasized why one is thinking about things in a certain way.
“What about the political noise is really true? What is political noise and what’s true? That’s what we need to determine,” he said.
Kriek announced that Agri SA, together with farmers, were invited to meet with the ANC. “Agri SA will protect the Constitution. No matter what,” he said.
According to Kriek, who himself is a Free State farmer, he only pays membership fees to one organization. “I trust only one organization with the future of my farm, my land, my ownership and my other rights under the constitution and that is Free State Agriculture.”
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