At a time when drought is taking its toll on farmers and rural communities, Government must step up and provide assistance. This cannot be as slow, muddled and delayed like Government’s approach to land restitution has been, since 1998, but must be swift and fair.

Die Beeld has today highlighted the plight of Dr Flip Raath and his family, in Hluhluwe, who fled their commercial farm of Kroonvrug in May this year after a tragic incident sparked tensions between Dr Raath and the neighbouring community of the Mdletshe Clan.

The IFP commends all efforts that are being made to resolve this tension, by Hluhluwe farmers, the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa, AgriSA, and Dr Raath himself. We are aware that discussions are under way with Inkosi Mdletshe, and that Dr Raath has offered to sell his land to Government, so that it may be handed over to the community.

The IFP will engage Inkosi Mdletshe to determine the facts and find a way forward in the interests of all parties. We have confidence that this might bear fruit.

But we understand that only Government can fully resolve this issue. The IFP urges the Minister of Agriculture to accept Dr Raath’s offer to purchase the land for the Mdletshe community. This would be in keeping with South Africa’s Constitution, which provides for expropriation with compensation when it comes to land restitution.

South Africans are being pushed to the brink by hardship, and the present drought has added considerable pressure. But as tensions mount, the IFP stands firm by the Constitution, knowing that this is the only way to balance the rightful aspirations of some with the reasonable fears of others.

The call for expropriation without compensation is both dangerous and ignorant, as it will set our people at each other’s throats and damage not only our social stability, but the stability of our economy as well.

We understand people’s impatience on the issue of land. Government has been dragging its feet and has failed to do what is right. Now impatience is boiling over into violence. This must be resolved, immediately, by the party that holds the power and responsibility to resolve it.

While Government holds this fundamental responsibility, the IFP calls on all South Africans to assist one another wherever possible, particularly during this drought.

Many farmers have no access to water and no capacity to store water for their cattle. Yet cattle are the lifeblood of rural communities. We must do all we can to help one another survive, and put pressure on Government to do what it should be doing to bring solutions.

It is painful to witness our country’s commercial farms go quiet, and our farmers unjustly pushed off their land through intimidation, fear and uncertainty. It is painful too to see the hardship of our rural communities.

The IFP is intent on being a peacemaker, a bridge-building and a mediator in this present crisis, for we understand the equal rights, dignity and value of all our country’s citizens.

The issue of land will determine the strength of our constitutional democracy.