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Free State Agriculture (FSA) views the coming State of the Nation Address (SONA) as an opportunity for government to realign its policy and objectives with what agriculture and the broader economy requires to rebuild South Africa and create jobs for all. Bad policy such as expropriation without compensation (EWC) is a huge hurdle in our country’s path towards economic growth and must be stopped.

“If Pres. Ramaphosa can turn his government towards responsible policies we will see business confidence recover. We hope for policies that will strengthen property rights and support all farmers and South Africans in their day to day business. We cannot only hope for this, but we, farmers and workers, are actively working towards this”, said Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture.

Real economic freedom entails the right to be able to own property privately and develop it and be rewarded by the productivity unlocked from this property through private ownership and not be deprived of this developed property without compensation, deprived of the fruit of your labour, whether buildings, irrigation systems or restoring barren land to productive land for example.

During the 2020 SONA, President Ramaphosa promised South Africans his government will protect our “inalienable right to human dignity”. In the same section the president acknowledges agriculture as one of the industries with the greatest potential for growth.

The 2020 SONA remarks stand in contrast to government actions. EWC has been made a central agenda of government to amend section 25 of the Constitution and table an Expropriation Bill under which expropriation of land without compensation would be permissible. Talks of Constitutional- and Bill- amendments making Expropriating of property without compensation possible does create fear and drives away investors as it infringes on the basic right to own and develop one’s own private property, robbing our citizens of this “inalienable right to human dignity”.

FSA list undelivered SONA promises that we have to see improved:

  1. Water use licences are now issued within 90 days” – this has not been achieved.
  2. “Investment and growth require a safe, stable and crime-free environment” – Government is central to our countries’ lawlessness and unsafe environment in creating policy uncertainty.
  3. Police visibility, effective training and better resourcing of police stations are our priorities.” – this has not been the case for the most parts of South Africa and in particular the Free State where the tragic Brendon Horner murder implicated police officers in stock theft syndicates and where rural murder and crime has increased!
  4. “We will not let up in the fight against corruption and state capture.” – We can no longer disagree with the general view that the government and the ANC have lost their credibility. We have little trust left in government through our own experience and of facts being revealed by the state capture commission.
  5. “The Infrastructure Fund implementation team has finalised the list of shovel-ready projects” – this has not had any effect on our shocking state of rural roads infrastructure in the Free State.
  6. “The District Development Model was effectively utilised to clear illegal dumping sites, refurbish pump stations to stop sewage spilling in the streets, build roads and lay water pipes, and provide water and toilets to local schools.” – This has not been transparent, and we do not know if this is also a fruitless and wasteful expenditure as we don’t see any results.

Sadly the track record of politicians shows that all these promises are political “sweet talk” and wish lists to appease the electorate! Are we to expect much more of the same as elections come closer and the ANC falls deeper into its own internal dilemma leaving the rest of SA leaderless and directionless!?

Free State Agriculture sincerely hopes that the President can convincingly address these issues, otherwise it’s time that the citizens of SA further unite to take over local control of our own constituencies and make a difference in our own communities instead of relying on a failed government.