Cape Town – South Africa is on the edge of a social revolution, but not all is doom and gloom as there is an important opportunity in land reform, according to negotiation expert Professor David Venter of Infostrat.
According to VinPro managing director Rico Basson, the biggest challenge of transformation in the wine industry is the lack of finance.
There are currently almost 60 land reform projects in the industry and between 30 and 40 black-owned trading companies.
“Land reform is not going away and as politicians have less and less to give, they start looking at areas like these,” Venter said at the Nedbank VinPro information day on Thursday. VinPro is the service organisation for 3 600 South African wine producer and cellar members.
“We must think exponentially and change our mindset. I think there is still a small window of opportunity to do land reform constructively. To do it on a political level is sure to be messy,” said Venter.
In his view, the question is whether people want to see themselves as victims going forward or as initiators “who make things happen”.
“I don’t see a clear vision of land reform on a government level,” said Venter.
“Let us put the blame where the blame is. The notion that people do not want to make land available is nonsense. We must take steps with land reform or we leave fertile soil for those who want to misuse it.”
He said what happened in SA’s “northern neighbour” is an example of “the very real danger” which must be avoided.
“We need a general acceptance that owning land in your country of birth is a strategic form of belonging,” said Venter.
“In SA there is an enormous youth bubble with no sense of belonging. They raised their voice in the #feesmustfall issue and they won’t stop there. It is, therefore, important to anticipate and move forward within the right framework and by showing trustworthiness.”
In Venter’s view South Africans must stop standing with their backs to the future, trying to fix apartheid.
Face the future instead of fixing what's already broken
“You cannot fix something that is broken. Let us rather turn around and face the future together,” he said.
He also pointed out that with the difficult agricultural challenges farmers face, it is no wonder that many people say one must be crazy to want to farm. That is why there is farm land available, but nobody is buying.
Lastly, Venter said it is time for the wine industry to stop merely bargaining with retailers, and to focus instead on negotiation for mutual benefit and growing of wealth.