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With the establishment of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA) in Boksburg on 11 and 12 April 2011, developing farmers now have a new, powerful voice. The launch of AFASA is the culmination of a yearlong consultation process with developing farmers country-wide to determine their need for an official structure that represents their interests.

The establishment of AFASA was a result of urgent court interdict lodged by some individuals at NAFU-SA, including Mr Joe Gondo, Mr Molefe Mokoene, Reverend Otto Mbangula and Ms Carol Motshegara to forbid farmers of South Africa to gather under the name “National African Farmers’ Union of South Africa (NAFU-SA)”. In response to this interdict the African farmers of South Africa immediately signed a declaration to launch the new association. “We are not a splinter group but we were forced by circumstances to find a way to address farmers’ issues as some individuals within NAFU-SA were stalling the process and frustrating farmers’ interests” said Mr Mike Mlengana the first president of AFASA. “Though the decision to launch AFASA was given at short notice due to the circumstances, farmers were very excited that at last they were liberated from misrepresentation by people who were never democratically elected by the farmers that they purported to represent,” Mr Mlengana said. NERPO played an instrumental role in the establishment of AFASA after the minister of AFASA after the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisherie, Ms Tina Joemat Pettersson, requested the organisation to intervene on behalf of developing farmers when their former representative body, NAFU-SA, faced liquidation and was clearly no longer representing the needs of developing farmers. Close to 3 000 developing farmers from all provinces in South Africa attended the two-day proceedings in Boksburg.

“Judging by their critical questions, especially with regards to AFASA’s constitution, developing farmers want to ensure that their needs will take the spotlight on the priority list of the new organisation. They want results and they want to ensure that AFASA’s high ethical and moral code is embedded in the constitution.”The organisation cannot be a white elephant, that does not produce any results,” says NERPO Group Managing Director, Mr Aggrey Mahanjana. The leadership structure of AFASA consists of a National Executive Council made up of the nine provincial Presidents and six members nominated by them. He following people were elected by the farmers from Local Municipality level: Mr Xolile Ngqameni (Eastern Cape), Mr Maseli Letuka (Free State), Dr Mamabolo Raphesu (Gauteng), Dr Mandla Buthelezi (KwaZuzu Natal), Mr Walter Mathidi (Limpopo), Dr Jod Mthombeni (Mpumalanga), Mr Sello Lesupi (North West), Mr David Mabudi (Northen Cape), and Mr Ivan Cloete (Western Cape). The six appointees are Ms Ntombi Msimang, Ms Lydia Ikaneng, Mr Ndivhuwo Phungo (Chairperson of Youth in Agriculture & Rural Development), Judge Nsanwisi Hetisansi and Mr Mike Mlengana. Mr Mahanjana says that AFASA has more than 6 300 members to date but the organisation aims to have 25 000 members by the end of the year and 60 000 by 2015. Various speakers addressed the two-day proceedings. All emphasised the role of a representative organisation to be the voice of developing farmers in South Africa.