Bloemfontein - Free State farmers are in South Africa to stay - whatever ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has to say, their union declared on Thursday.
Free State Agriculture deputy president Dan Kriek said markets had already reacted to Malema's utterances on nationalisation and other issues.
"I think people are getting used to these statements," referring to Malema's speech at the ANCYL's recent national conference on nationalisation of mines, banks and land reform.
Kriek said Malema's comments were nevertheless viewed in a serious light.
Leaders such as Malema should be more careful with what they said.
Asked to comment on Malema's land reform statements, Kriek said the farming community was rather focusing on comments made by President Jacob Zuma at the opening of the ANC Youth League’s conference.
He said issues such as South Africa's growth plan, job creation and food security were aspects the farming community was focusing on.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe's comment that land reform would be discussed within the ambit of the Constitution was exactly where Free State farmers stood on the issue.
Kriek said Malema talked in a very simplistic way of nationalisation and land reform and that “people would be better off”.
“There are so many examples in the world where countries have tried what he has proposed and failed dismally.”
Kriek said there was “uneasiness” about how Malema made the comments, but it was not just within the farming communities.
“What concerns us was that he had made it a race issue. He argued nationalisation on a race basis and we cannot stand for that.”
Kriek said South Africa belonged to everybody and it was very worrying that Malema took that road.
“We have been there, we have done that in South Africa and we need not go back on that route again.”
The Free State farmers were prepared to discuss land reform with anybody. They believed they had better ways to achieve land reform.
Free State Agriculture had updated its land reform plan and would discuss it with government within the next week.
The farmers said agriculture commodity organisastions and agriculture businesses had shown that land reform could be done in an orderly manner.
Government’s efforts to establish new farmers had failed in many cases, while those by the private sector had flourished, Kriek said.
The commercial farming body was also busy with a land audit in the province to find out how much land had been transferred to black farmers.
Land reform spokesperson Dirk van Rensburg said indications were that in some districts 48% of land had already been transferred to black farmers.
In an area such as that between Wepener and Zastron more than 50% of land was owned by black commercial farmers or new farmers, he said.