Afrikaner farmers flee to East Europe

Scores of South African farmers are preparing to start a new life in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, after the country invited them to buy commercial agricultural land it has just put up for sale…

editor@thesouthafrican.com Jenni Marsh

A delegation of 12 farmers from the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) met government officials in Tbilisi, Georgia, in September to discuss the possibility of (commercial) South African farmers emigrating, and returned from the trip invigorated, writes Jenni Marsh, editor of The South African.

ATTACKS AGAINST WHITE SA SOAR TO TEN A DAY NOV 2010 FARMITRACKER MAP

Graph Nov 5 2010  on http://www.farmitracker.com shows that attacks against all the whites in South Africa soared this year to ten a day by half-october 2010 – up from one a day in January… However white Afrikaans-speakers, including farmers and smallholders, are targetted 96% of the time in these attacks, and often nothing is stolen: indicating that the motives are racist rather than robbery.

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Since then, 80 South African farmers – who the Georgian government has described as the “best in the world” – have contacted the TAU and expressed a desire to leave South Africa. Wanni Scribante, from the De Wildt farming region near Pretoria (Censorbugbear-editor: this also is the region north of greater Pretoria which is the most targetted by armed militia youth gangs in South Africa), was part of the delegation that went to Tbilisi. “What we found was a place that had been devastated by communism and socialism and was miles behind in terms of commercial farming – 70 years ago the development just stopped,” he says. “We also found a young generation that really want to break out of that situation. Even before we went, the TAU chairman’s phone did not stop ringing.”

Bennie Van Zyl, chairman of the TAU, says farmers are living in fear and are now willing to give up the sunshine of South Africa for Georgia’s bitterly cold winters. “Land is available in Georgia, but the Government knows that it only has small scale farmers who don’t have the skills to be commercial farmers,” he said. “It realised that in SA we have a lot of skilled, capable workers but a government that is no good for us. The biggest problem we face is rural safety – farmers are being killed in their beds and that is not something we are proud of.”

An advisory committee of three experts will return to Georgia in December to analyse agricultural possibilities. The team will help Georgia, currently importing about 70 per cent of its domestic food requirements, exploit its land to produce wheat, maize, beef, sheep, pork, poultry and fruit.

However, the South African experts need to determine whether Georgia, which has 500mm rainfall per annum in the east and 4,500mm in the west and snowfall in the winter, has the right conditions to farm these crops and animals. But the TAU – through which emigrating farmers must go through to apply to buy a maximum of 80 hectares of land – is convinced Georgia offers the chance to live a life free from the constant threat of crime and corruption.

We can’t even go outside at night any more… we don’t feel safe in SA anymore…

Wynand Liebenberg, 42, is an (Afrikaner) sheep farmer in Beaufort West, Western Cape, who currently has no plans to leave South Africa – but says he would consider a move to Georgia if the first wave of emigration was successful. “The government should accept the fact that white people are part of South Africa and they want to make a positive contribution, if they are allowed to,” he says. “My wife and I inherited our farm from my father and we love this land. We don’t want to leave. We don’t have any friends in Georgia – we don’t even know anyone who has been there to visit. But we don’t feel safe in South Africa anymore – we can’t even go outside at night.”

Ewald Van Huyssteen, 22, left South Africa in 2002, when his (Afrikaner) family relocated from their farm in the Free State, to Hemel Hempstead (in the UK), where he finished his education. “My dad had heard too many stories of farm attacks and then it happened to a friend, we had to leave. We were lucky, as we had family in the UK who helped us start again, but he still dreams of returning to South Africa one day – but for me, I’d never go back,” says Van Huyssteen.

ANC-regime has turned farming into a racial issue – black against white…

There are also fears for the South African economy in the wake of an exodus of the majority of its commercial farmers. Mr Van Zyl says: “We’ve been asking the Government what will happen to the economy if commercial farmers leave for a long time – 10 years, in fact – and they don’t want to listen. They make it into a racial issue – black against white. But it’s nothing to do with that. In South Africa, we don’t get any subsidies from the Government. In Georgia, it’s different. If you need running water on your farm, it’s the Government’s responsibility to provide it.”

Georgia’s offer could also provide an escape route for farmers in Zimbabwe, where the Commercial Farmers’ Organisation says there has been a “renewed onslaught” of farm seizures and attacks in recent weeks. While no one from Zimbabwe has contacted the TAU, so far, the offer is open to all African states. (In Zimbabwe, 24 farmers have been killed under the Mugabe-regime, two in October 2010.)

However, the idea of Georgia becoming a melting pot for displaced white farmers has been met with criticism from Georgia’s opposition party. “Our government is conducting a policy of betrayal of its own country,” says Giorgi Gugava, ideological secretary of the Labour Party. “Our farmers will be forced to abandon their land because they cannot afford to farm. They don’t produce enough to sustain themselves, let alone sell anything to make a profit.”

  • However, Mr Gugava’s fears may be in vain. Mr Van Zyl hopes news of Georgia’s offer will make President Zuma sit up and listen to the needs of white (Afrikaner) farmers. “We want to stay here, this is our country … but to stay is not possible for us anymore unless something changes – and soon.” http://london.thesouthafrican.com/news/SA-farmers-flee-to-Eastern-Europe

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

One Response to Afrikaner farmers flee to East Europe

  1. John M Riggs says:

    the Afrikaners feed the likes of Julius Malema,although entitled to his opinion like I am ,at least I am not a fool like JM ,he a complete fanatical idiot who runs riot in South Africa.
    White Afrikaner farmers,born pioneers and born agronomists are probably the WORDLS’ best farmers and deserve to have a place in the sun where they can farm in peace without being murdered or disrespected and have their property rights threatened and hundreds of blithering fools being breed by fools like their leaders and namely Julius Malema and Marxists brothers in Zimbabwe who are pathetic idiots.

    Until ANC takes proper care of fools in its ranks,fortunately less seem to surround Zuma than surrounded Mbeki , they do not deserve to be feed by the AFRIKANERS

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