Farmers threaten armed struggle

White farmers on Wednesday threatened an armed struggle similar to that waged by the African National Congress unless their property and cultural concerns are addressed.

A handful of farmers presented a memorandum to agricultural union TAU South Africa president Paul van der Walt on the fringes of a union conference, urging him to convey their concerns to the government in the strongest possible language.

These include “artificial pressure” on their language, culture, land and arms.

“The way in which white farmers are being made a legitimate target as an excuse for slow land reform should stop immediately,” the documents said.

This should be seen against the background of farm murders.

“If not, we will consider the government to be part of the threat and treat it as such,” the memorandum states. “What would the authorities and the ANC have done in our situation in which taxes and expropriation are applied to a specific group?

“The ANC’s struggle history seems to be the answer.”

The group demanded an effective and responsible government in which farmers can farm safely and with financial sustainability.

Should the government lack the will or means to ensure this, the group demanded a separate space in which they can live according to their own norms and standards.

This could eventually be to the benefit of all, the memorandum says.

Earlier, a handful of farmers gathered outside the conference hall at tea time with posters reading “Geen boer, geen kos [No farmer, no food]”, “Ons grondeise = hongersnood [Our land claims = famine], “Weg met grondrowers [Away with land robbers]”, and “Weg met kommunisme [Away with communism]”.

One farmer used the opportunity to lobby for the retention of the capital city’s name, with a placard reading “Pretoria bly Pretoria [Pretoria remains Pretoria]”.

Aids warning

HIV/Aids will rob commercial farmers of a large part of their consumer market, the conference heard on Wednesday.

“Aids is going to determine your market,” analyst Jan du Plessis told conference-goers in Pretoria.
“You will no longer have a market for maize.”

The scourge will also affect farmers’ available labour force, he said.

Du Plessis quoted figures that he said prove that Aids is a national disaster.

The national infection figure stood at 21,5% last year, with nearly 30% of women visiting prenatal clinics testing positive for HIV.

The figure for KwaZulu-Natal was 40,7%, Gauteng 33,1%, Mpumalanga 30,8%, the Free State 29,5% and the Eastern Cape 28%.

Projections are that 47% of deaths in South Africa in 2005 will be attributable to Aids.

Du Plessis urged farmers to adapt to new realities posed by Aids and globalisation.—Sapa

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