NEWS & ANALYSIS

Speaker won’t allow debate on farm murders - Pieter Groenewald

FF Plus leader says 11 farmers were murdered up until the 15th of this month

Shocking that the Speaker won’t allow a debate on farm murders

24 February 2017

It is shocking that the increase in the slaughter of the farmers of South Africa is not regarded as being important enough to be discussed in the country’s parliament, Dr. Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus, says.

After Dr. Groenewald had requested the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, last week (16 February 2017) to hold an urgent debate on farm murders and farm attacks, he has now received a response in which the request is being declined.

Dr. Groenewald says it is tragic that the murder of a farmer nearly every four days in South Africa and a farm attack just about one every day, is according to the Speaker not urgent enough, or of sufficient national interest to allow for a parliamentary debate about it.

In the Speaker’s response, she states that the attacks on farmers are a serious issue, but that it does not justify an immediate debate.

According to Dr. Groenewald, the FF Plus views this decision as shocking and inappropriate. He says it is also a clear reflection of the attitude over the years of the ANC government toward farm attacks. Dr. Groenewald will, however, not be leaving the matter there and will be asking the Speaker for a meeting to discuss the matter.

“The whole country and the international community should take note of this. It appears as if the lives of farmers and their workers are not of any interest to the government.

“Up to the fifteenth of this month, eleven people had been murdered on farms, while 30 farm attacks had occurred. In 2016, 70 farmers died in 345 farm attacks. This is one murder every fourth day and a farm attack nearly every day.

“What is especially worrying is the sharp increase in the number of murders and farm attacks in the last couple of years, as well as the brutality which accompanies these attacks. The national police services have not succeeded in fulfilling its duties to safeguard rural areas, and in particular the farming community.

“It just cannot continue like this. Farm attacks affect every South African. Close to one million people are employed in the agricultural sector, which contributes 6,9% to the GDP of the country.

“Currently, there are less than 35 000 commercial farming units producing food for the people of our country.

“The loss of one farmer, whether a smallholder farmer or commercial farmer, not only has an immediate, direct impact on the families of the murdered farmer and his/her workers, but it is a direct threat to food security and ultimately our GDP.

“It will, therefore, ultimately have serious ramifications for the security of the country, not only in terms of food security but also the stability in our labour market and our economic development.

“This is a growing tragedy which is playing out in front of us, and the government can intervene if the political will exists. It is now however clear that government is sitting with folded hands and watching while the slaughter on farms continue,” Dr. Groenewald said.

Statement issued by Dr. Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus Leader, 24 February 2017