In commemorating the National Disability Rights Awareness Month in November, the IFP is seeking answers from the government – in particular the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development – on how many farms are specifically allocated to persons with disabilities, as government plans to redistribute over 500 000 hectares of land in South Africa.
The IFP commends the decision by the government to make many hectares of state land available for agricultural purposes, however, it is concerned that of the 135 117 hectares of land released to 275 farmers by the National Department of Agriculture, only one person with disabilities benefitted.
The IFP is aware that in KwaZulu-Natal, 3 684 hectares of land will be redistributed. The IFP would like to know, how many hectares of land will be made available to persons with disabilities, and from which districts will these people and farms be allocated? What plans are in place to prevent corruption in the redistribution process? Everything must be transparent. The IFP believes that persons with disabilities must be given land, empowered and become commercial farmers. They must fully participate in agriculture and contribute to the economy.
Further, the IFP calls upon the KZN MEC for Agriculture, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, to tell the public how many farms are currently owned by persons with disabilities? What plans are in place to ensure that persons with disabilities benefit from land distribution so as to potentially become commercial farmers?
The IFP calls for a reliable survey of all citizens with disabilities, so as to enable the Department of Agriculture to provide an efficient service to these South Africans.
The IFP believes that the agricultural sector could be one of the best ways of improving the economic circumstances of persons with disabilities. People with disabilities do not necessarily want to rely on disability grants. They want opportunities that will enable them to develop this country, just like their fellow South Africans.
Disability does not equate to inability. Therefore, in order for us to create a truly inclusive society that leaves no person behind, the active involvement of persons with disabilities is vital – and this starts with ensuring that any social, cultural and economic barriers are removed.
In order to improve the livelihoods of farmers with disabilities they should be prioritised when it comes to the government support services provided to the agricultural sector.
There should be special mention made of farmers with disabilities when planning and implementing government support for the farmers, and this should be highlighted in the agriculture policy. Persons with disabilities deserve the same chance as everyone else to make the most of their lives and to make their voices heard in this country.
We shall continue to challenge the barriers, discrimination and prejudice that persons with disabilities face every day and ensure that we demonstrate that an independent life is both possible and affordable, regardless of a person’s abilities.