The Witzenberg PALS initiative is a private land reform initiative that was established by the commercial farmers in the Witzenberg district, in partnership with local communities and all three spheres of Government. The Dutoit Group is actively involved in various Pals projects with the key objective to help create an enabling environment to implement innovative land reform and economic empowering projects/businesses.
The PALS framework represents a radical departure from past land reform initiatives and is based on sound business principals, mentorship and training of emerging black farmers to become successful commercial farmers. The PALS Centre is governed as a non-profit company (Witzenberg PALS NPC) by a board of directors, selected by the PALS Members.
On Wednesday 21 June 2017 Witzenberg PALS held their annual member’s meeting at Kaleo Manor in the Koue Bokkeveld. Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, Honourable Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa was the guest speaker.
As part of the program, representatives from PALS intended to meet with Mr. Ramaphosa prior to the meeting for a briefing on the initiative. Unfortunately, the Deputy President’s delegation ran late, and could he not receive the vital information about the PALS initiative prepared for him. Mr. Izak Strauss focused on the various PALS projects that have been rolled out and Mr. Gerrit van Vuuren discussed the challenges faced by PALS. These presentations were also missed however, Mr. Ramaphosa was in time to hear the progress report by the PALS CEO, Mr. Lennox Plaatjies.
Following the meeting and the engagements with the Deputy President, Mr. Pieter du Toit (Dutoit Group MD) Chairman of the PALS Board of Directors, made the below observations:
- Land reform is a non-negotiable. PALS was accordingly ahead of the game when it launched the initiative when it did. It led the way then and it continues to do so today, despite the challenges it may face.
- All the principles pertaining to land reform, referred to by the Deputy President in his speech, were those identified by PALS. These principles were applied and addressed from the very beginning and we are continuing to do so.
- The meeting was not only attended by members of PALS and the Deputy President’s delegation, but also by the Executive Committee of the Western Cape and local ANC branch members. Mr. Ramaphosa’s speech did not only focus on these constituents, but also on the ANC presidential election later this year.
- PALS is already in the process of drafting representations to the Deputy President’s office and will continue to do so. It is important that his office, and other relevant agencies, be informed about the principles and values espoused by PALS as well as the progress that is being made. More importantly, these agencies need to be appraised of the role they have to fulfil in achieving successful and sustainable land reform.
Mr. Plaatjies concluded that, ‘A substantial amount of effort and planning went into the meeting. All the members from PALS were on time and observed all the correct protocol. However, when the delegation of the Deputy President was not on time, the meeting proceeded. This is a rich metaphor for PALS and the work that it is doing. We will do the right thing and co-operate with the Government and continuously consult with all relevant stakeholders, but we cannot wait for the Government. If we want to make progress, we have to lead the way,’
The Dutoit Group invites all agricultural role players to engage with PALS and become part of the solution in the South African land reform space.
For more information visit the PALS website at www.wpals.co.za