Saturday, May 28, 2011

BEE in our bonnet

After 17 years of democracy and the promise of a land handover to blacks, only 7% of the land has been redistributed -- and it is said that 90% of agricultural development projects on this land have failed. It will take us at least 100 years at the current pace to return the promised 30% of land. At the same time farm workers are underpaid, overworked and suffer all kinds of gross human rights violations. The South African agricultural sector is driven by a racial feudal system under which black workers are mere ­factors of production and the environment is disrespected and harmed. This system can best be described as a commitment to the principle of "profits before people".

AgriBEE was designed to "bring in" black players to reap the benefits of slave labour. Conceptually AgriBEE was designed as a new avenue of accumulation by politically connected elites who skim the fat off the land. AgriBEE funds have been siphoned off through blatant corruption -- news reports have revealed how money meant for enterprise development has ended up buying soccer teams and being invested in golf courses. BEE has increasingly been associated with corruption. Corruption is not an aberration but a constitutive element of capitalism.
A related element of these legalised thieving practices is the general treatment of black workers, which has not improved under black-owned enterprises. Often it has worsened. Power relationships on farms have to be altered through the massive redistribution of land to the landless. The primary beneficiaries of the agricultural sector's transformation must be the farm workers to whom the Freedom Charter had promised that "the land shall be owned by those who work it". This transformation is impossible in the present frenzied state of white agricultural moguls, politically connected AgriBEE players and aspirants just aiming to make a quick buck.

20% of South Africans suffer an acute lack of food security. It highlights the priorities of the agriculture sector - maximisation of profit through exporting produce -- to the European Union and elsewhere.

Taken from here

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