Agriculture

The missing Link in the Land Reform debate: Healthy Relationships

the-missing-link-in-the-land-reform-debate-healthy-relationships

Our Country is facing a Relationship Crisis not a Land-reform or Economic crisis.

The original sin of apartheid is not the 1993 land act, it was the violation of a relationship.

With a consumption per capita Gini coefficient of 0.63 in 2015, South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Being the most unequal society points not to the numerical values of amounts in our bank accounts, but the national deficit of broken relationships due to corruption, greed, lies, deceit, entitlement, disrespect, hatred, suspicion, and self-interest.

We are seeing growing public indignation at the perceived disconnect between perks for a few and the rights of the many. [1]

The guiding principle of the South African Government, as captured in the NDP, is that “no political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remaining in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must be the first priority of a democratic government”.Much has been done by Government to provide free primary health care; no-fee paying schools; old age and child support grants; housing; and free basic services (water, electricity and sanitation) to poor households. Although these policies and interventions have resulted in notable gains in poverty reduction since 1994, the country continues to face the challenge of high poverty, high inequality and high unemployment. This points to a deeper problem namely a relational problem: Trust between civil society and government is on an all-time low because of corruption, incompetence, incapacity, laziness, entitlement, and egotistical self-interest.

In their groundbreaking book, based on years of research, Pickett and Wilkinson provides hard evidence to show, how almost everything – from life expectancy to depression levels, violence to illiteracy – is affected not by how wealthy a society is, but how equal it is. The Age of criminal responsibility is lower in more unequal countries.
Infant mortality rates are higher in more unequal countries.
Levels of trust are higher in more equal countries.
Health and social problems are worse in more unequal countries.
Life expectancy are lower in more unequal countries.[2] Inequality points to one thing: Profit, and materialism has become more important than people.

Although the EFF is right in putting it’s finger on this throbbing nerve in South Africa, it has no plan to solve or heal it. Land grabs, race hatred, African Nationalism, expropriation without compensation, nationalizing the country towards a socialist state has been done by the previous Apartheid Government and failed. It failed because it divided our Nation, who whether we believe it or not, are more united than most believe or are willing to accept.

Cultural integration took place whether unconsciously whether we all liked it or not and cannot be stopped.  Most Black South Africans opposed white supremacy and colonialism through the liberation struggle, yet new languages were adopted, lifestyles altered, and values affected.  We all lost some part of our original cultural heritage in effect.   An aspect of division to many, but in fact actually proof our interdependence is the issue of the Afrikaans language. The white Afrikaner’s claim to the language proved to be incoherent with the facts as explained by Robert C. H. Shell, the tower of Babel: The Slave trade and the Creolization at the Cape 1652-1834. Creolization: The mixing of people brought a cultural blend which ultimately led to the formation of new identities. The complexity of the early Slave trade, where year after year new cultures and languages were brought to the Cape, and working together necessitates that one understands each other, a new mixed language evolved.[3]   Afrikaans by definition is a mixed language.  Many whites have been raised by black or coloured mothers.  Then there is the question of intermarriage, resulting in possibly very few people who can claim a 100% pure ancestral lineage, based on DNA testing.   Our History are so closely linked and integrated like different colours of sand mixed in one container it is impossible to separate.  Even if integration is from 9 – 5 O’clock, the work place has offered a neutral ground of tolerance, and relationships had to be fostered and maintained.

As a strong Christian-value based nation we need to recognize the Bible is a compilation of relationship rules. Sin is basically about breaking relational rules and thus breaking relationships. Relationships is the glue that keeps all the parts together.

The priority in SA should be relationship reform, not land-reform.

Fundamentally the Christian faith is built upon our relationship with a relational God. God is in essence a harmonious relationship of not three Gods, but one God in three persons.  Before the fall God established four fundamental relationships for each person; a relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation. These relationships are the building blocks for all of life.  When these relationships are functional and healthy, humans experience the fullness of what God destined for mankind.

Sin is in essence a betrayal and termination of these relationships.

Sins like: Pride, envy, greed, covetousness, idleness, egotism, and rage

Sin in its fullest sense refers to disorientation from right relationship with God, which then leads to disorientation from right relationship with self, others, and all of creation. That disorientation results in wrongdoings. Sin is dislocating God from the center of reality. Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda

As ideological economic and political system, neither pure capitalism nor pure socialism leads to an ideal outcome: for South Africa, rather, the solution lies in constitutionalism enacted correctly.

The Preamble of our Constitution declares that the people of South Africa recognize the injustices of the past, honour those who have suffered for justice and freedom, and respect those who have built and developed the country. It then declares that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in their diversity, and that the freely elected representatives of the people of South Africa have adopted the Constitution as supreme law, to

  • heal the divisions of the past and create a society based on democratic values, social justice and basic human rights;
  • lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by the law;
  • improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of all people; and
  • build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

In conclusion, the prayer is delivered that God may protect our people and may bless South Africa!

The Constitution of South Africa was birth when opposing parties reconciled, united, and began to work together as one Nation on founding a premise, a set of laws to protect and guide all the diverse people of SA towards healthy relationships.

The one most basic ingredient that is most needed, in any solution offered by any party, is the missing link of healthy, respectful, reciprocal, valued relationships.

Solutions driven by love, reconciliation, peace and shared prosperity will last forever. We need to recognise that we are one people, one nation. As long as we are divided, we are not going to achieve anything. Mogoeng Mogoeng

Human rights vs Human Wrongs:

  • We have chosen human rights, at the cost of mutual reciprocal responsibility.
  • We have chosen economic gains and profits at the cost of the people working for those profits.
  • We try to correct wrongs by laws and policies but ignoring the intricate network of relationships involved.
  • We tried to silence the poor with grants, and houses, but in the process have forgotten and abandoned the fact they were crying for dignity and inclusion.
  • We try to give more people work but regarded them as objects and figures on growth charts, dehumanizing them.
  • Unions won CCMA cases but lost relationships, vital inherent provision to the worker’s future.
  • Politicians win votes from a minority electorate, but did they build a nation?
  • Leaders lobby for votes, where they should have built bridges.

There is no one size fit all solution to the very complex Land Reform issue, for this reason we have no other option but that local communities begin to directly engage, build trust and empathy through listening and dialogue, and together find their win-win fitting solutions.

Like with the hearings we need to move from town to town, with a team: We need to mobilize specialized teams of peace-makers, mediators, and problem-solvers all over South Africa, to assist with this process.

You cannot transform precarious informal settlements to dignified communities without public participation, thus unlocking the value and richness within that communities. Outside interventions is not sustainable. Finding the plans and ideas in a community and bring them into fulfillment is what brings lasting change.  Long-term, lasting relationships is the glue that keeps all the parts together of any type of intervention.  Only the local community can provide that lasting energy, not National government nor State departments.  Sustainable poverty alleviation is only successful when we help reconnect broken relationships.  The poor are protesting not only for jobs, money, houses, they’re grieving because main stream society has forgotten, neglected and abandoned them.

The land reform projects failed mainly because farming is difficult, and a farmer needs the help, support, guidance, peer-to-peer mentorship and advice of his or her neighbors. We grow and learn through a network of relationships, and a process of applying that knowledge, making mistakes, and making improvements, until we become good at it, then we can begin to help others. Any intervention that ignores this process will fail.  It is all about growing and maintaining healthy relationships.  Presenting any programs, solutions without building the actual relationships between all parties, is why projects and land-reform fail and thus become unsustainable.

The Paternistic role the relationship between Farmer and Labourers as a “paternalistic despotism of a racialized kind because it became a position of dominance and class discarding the relationship.  Farmers who build healthy relationships with their workers, and their wives and children, creates a fruitful village, a closely-knit farm-family that look after the other’s interests.  When the government tried to take over this role, which they could not even fulfil, the farmer withdraws, and further deprivation occurred. Let the farmer take up his or her role, and monitor it, assists, guide, and nurture it.   Government fought for the rights of the poor, by ESTA, labour legislation and minimum wages, excluding the farmer, instead of working through the farmer.  Enforcing and enhancing a relationship!

Lessons Learned when healthy relationships are missing

Building a company, a business where the CEO and management are disconnected with the workers and labourers will not remain profitable, cost-effective or productive. Relationships count.

Trying to connect people through religious activities to buildings, organisations and rituals dissatisfy our yearning to connect to God and fellow believers. Church should lead by example to reconcile man, to God, to self, to their neighbours, and to purpose.

Creating a program to uplift farmworkers without building healthy relationships between workers and managers/farmers, workers with workers, and workers with their families is not sustainable.

Developing leaders on the farm/business without the management having a healthy relationship with the leaders leads to the very leaders becoming the voices of dissonance and rebellion, and protest in the end.

Training and capacity building without the relational ingredient lead to workers being trained by the farm but finding employment elsewhere. Relationships is what keeps people loyalty.

Building infrastructure without public participation and engagement leads to people getting what they not really need nor want.  A Relief, then Rehabilitation, then Developmental approach to poverty alleviation is now considered the best practise worldwide. [4]

Economic empowerment without developing and growing together leads to the empowerment project becoming a separate entity often in competition with the farm.

Values and rules enforced without respecting and modelling it within the relational framework leads to rules never being internalise and eventually becoming a piece of paper in a file. Rules should be modelled from the highest to the lowest level on the farm to become part of the organisational culture.

Unions won CMMA cases but lost relationships, and thus alienated the worker from any future provision and care, embedded in the relationship.

Even marketing based on building and maintaining relationships are proven to be most effective.

There is simply no single one thing any of us can do, without a network of friends and family.

Many jobs are lost because of a struggling economy. But many people are losing their jobs because of relationship issues, miscommunication, unethical behaviour, gross negligence, low work ethic and production levels, lack of integrity and character. Healthy relationships is the consequence of an healthy heart and soul. Love your neighbour as yourself.

True Christians should be the most employable people on the planet, because of the serving, meek and humble attitude, their integrity, passion and highest standards.

It is not time to make things right in SA, and build bridges, reconcile, make peace, seek justice, love mercy, and rebuild the ancient ruins of right living!

 

[1]World Economic Forum, The new Social Covenant.

[2]Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009)

[3]Elizabeth A Eldredge, Fred Mouton. Slavery in South Africa captive Labor on the Dutch Frontier,

[4]Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When helping Hurts, how to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself. Pg 139

Jan Oosthuizen

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