Every culture, besides a number of other things, has its own distinct set of customs, traditions and etiquettes. In fact, one of the important distinguishing features between one nation and one tribe and another has generally been its distinct set of customs, traditions and etiquettes. The nation or tribe formed by the followers of the prophets and messengers of God is no exception. In the formation of this group, the prophets of God directed their followers to conform to a particular set of customs and etiquettes, which would distinguish them as a nation of the followers of God's prophets. However, because the basic objective of all prophetic teachings is to cleanse the human mind, body and soul from all that has the potential of defiling it, the customs and etiquettes for this group of people have also been fixed and promoted with the same target in perspective.
The Arab culture, originally, being one consisting of adherents of the Abrahamic traditions, had a number of these customs, traditions and etiquettes in vogue, even before the advent of the Prophet (peace be upon him). With only a few minor exceptions, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not alter or add anything to these traditions and customs of the Abrahamic legacy. Thus, these traditions, generally, are a more primitive part of Islam, as compared to the Qur'an. After the approval of the Prophet (peace be upon him), they have been transmitted to the Muslim community through the conceptual consensus and the practical perpetuation of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Thus, the source of these customs, traditions and etiquettes is the conceptual consensus and the practical perpetuation of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and every subsequent generation of Muslims.
An introduction of the Islamic customs, traditions and etiquettes follows:
1- Pronouncing God's Name Before Eating or Drinking
The pronouncement of God's name before eating or drinking is with a twofold purpose. Firstly, as a recognition of God's countless blessings upon us, and secondly as a supplication for the continuation and abundance of these blessings in future. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have stressed strict adherence to this etiquette in a number of sayings ascribed to him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
Whenever anyone of you eats, he should say: '[I begin] with the name of God'. If he forgets, he should then say: 'With the name of God, at the beginning as well as at the end".
2- Using the Right Hand for Eating & Drinking
After pronouncing God's name before starting to eat or drink, a Muslim should use his right hand for eating and drinking. This practice is a continual reminder for Muslims to strive to be among those, who - on the Day of Judgment - shall get their records in their right hands. Adherence to this practice, on behalf of the individual symbolizes his desire and commitment to be among the people of 'right hand' on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has stressed adherence to this practice in a number of narratives ascribed to him. In one of these narratives, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
Whenever one of you eats, he should eat with his right hand and whenever he drinks, he should drink using his right hand.
3- Muslim Greeting & its Response
At the time of meeting a Muslim should greet his brother with the words: “Assalaam `alaikum”. The addressees should subsequently respond with the words: “Wa `alaikum Assalaam'". These words are, in fact, a supplication for the addressee for peace and blessings. These words have been referred to in the Qur'an as well as in sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). As a further etiquette of greeting others, the Prophet is also reported to have said:
“The young should take precedence in greeting the old, the passer-by should take precedence in greeting the one who is sitting and the smaller group should first greet the larger group”.
4- Blessing After Sneeze & its Response
A sneeze is a relief from a common temporary disorder in the human body. After being relieved from this temporary disorder, a Muslim should thank the Almighty with the words: “Al-Hamdulillah", while those present around him, who hear him praise and thank the Lord, should pray for God's mercy and blessings for him with the words: “Yarhamukallah" . The initial utterance is obviously to thank the Almighty for the relief one feels after sneezing, while the response - entailing an invocation of God's mercy for the person who has thanked his Lord - signifies a reminder of the fact that God's mercy and His blessings are, in fact, the right only of the thankful. This practice of thanking God after sneezing and then of responding with an invocation of God's mercy for the person who has thanked God is known in the Arabic language as 'Tashmeet'. 'Tashmeet' has been one of the common practices among the followers of God's prophets. The mere fact that there was a word for this practice in the pre-Islamic Arabic language clearly evidences the fact that this practice was also in vogue among the Arabs even before the advent of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) approved and promoted this practice among his followers without any alteration. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
When one of you sneezes, he should say: "All gratitude is due to God", his brother or his companion, in response should say: "May God bless you/have mercy upon you", then again as a response, the listener should say: "May God guide you all and make you all more virtuous". (Bukhari)
5- Reciting 'Adhaan' in the Right Ear of a Newly Born
This tradition was initiated by the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The words of the Adhaan as fixed by the Prophet (peace be upon him), according to God's directive, entail the complete summarized message of Islam. The Adhaan - the call to prayers is, in fact, a call to Islam - a call to complete submission to God's will. Every Muslim is continually being called toward the message entailed in the Adhaan. This message is being delivered through our mosques five times during every day.
Recitation of the Adhaan in the right ear of a new born child symbolizes, on behalf of the parents, that like their respective physical contributions in the formation of the child, they have also, through the deliverance of God's message, initiated the transmission of their spiritual beings to the child.
6- Trimming Moustaches, Removing Hair from the Pubic Area and from Under the Armpits, Clipping Nails & Circumcision
As part of the teachings related to physical cleansing, the Prophet (peace be upon him) directed the Muslims to trim their moustaches, remove the hair from their pubic area and that which grows under the armpits, clip their nails and circumcise their male offspring. These practices were approved, adopted and promoted by the Prophet (peace be upon him) as symbols of cleanness.
Large and unkempt moustaches have generally been considered a sign of arrogance. Moreover, such moustaches can also soil food and water at the time of eating and drinking. Likewise, large nails are not only a sign of an uncouth and a dirty personality, but also give a wild and beastly appearance. Thus, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave the directive regarding the trimming of moustaches and the clipping of nails. In the same manner, removing hair from the pubic area and from under the armpits and circumcising the male offspring are also clearly related to physical cleansing. To stress adherence to all these practices, the Prophet (peace be upon him) even fixed a time-period for some of these practices. According to one of the narratives, Anas (may God be pleased with him) is reported to have said:
“We were directed not to leave our moustaches untrimmed, our nails unclipped and the hair on our pubic area and under our armpits unshaved for over forty days.” (Muslim)
All these practices were generally adhered to by the Arabs, even before the advent of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Adherence to all these practices is, in fact, a part of human nature, which, in view of their significance in our physical cleansing and purification, have always been a permanent feature of the teachings of the prophets of God. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
“Five things are a part of man's nature: Circumcision, removing pubic hair, clipping nails, removing hair from the armpits and trimming moustaches.”
6- Keeping the Nose, the Mouth & the Teeth Clean
As a part of elevating the religious tastes and developing a strong sense of purification and cleanliness among their followers, cleaning the nose, the mouth and the teeth has been a permanent feature of the teachings of the prophets of God. Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene, especially, keeping the nose, the mouth and the teeth clean has been mentioned in the history of the Arabs, since pre-Islamic times, as an accepted religious tradition. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have strictly adhered to the practice of rinsing his mouth and his nose every time he performed his ablutions. In the same manner, he also greatly stressed the importance of keeping the teeth clean. He is reported to have said:
“Had it not been for the burden that it may have caused for my followers, I would have directed them to brush their teeth before every prayer.” (Muslim)
8- Washing after Urination and Defecation
The Arabic word "Istinjaa" is used as a term for cleaning the related organs after urination and defecation. "Istinjaa", like many of the aforementioned customs and traditions, was also strictly adhered to by the Arabs, since pre-Islamic times. Depending upon the circumstances, "Istinjaa" may be performed with water, with pebbles of dry earth or with any other suitable thing. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have preferred using water for the purpose. Abu Hurairah (may God be pleased with him) is reported to have said:
“When the Prophet would go to relieve himself (i.e. to urinate or defecate), I would get him water in a pot. He would perform Istinjaa with the water and brush his hand on the earth.” (Abu Dawud)
9- Refraining from Sexual Contact During a Woman's Menstruation and her Puerperal Discharge
Refraining from sexual contact with women during their menstruation and during their puerperal discharge has been a part of all revealed religions. The Arabs, under the influence of the Abrahamic traditions, strictly adhered to this restraint even before the advent of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This restraint is also referred, from various aspects, in the pre-Islamic Arabic poetry. There was no noticeable difference of opinion or practice in this regard. However, the allowable limits of interaction with women during these days were not as clear. There were some extremely strict opinions regarding these limits. Some even considered the touch of a menstruating woman to be defiling and corrupting their physical cleanness. Thus, when people inquired about these limits, the Qur'an clarified these limits (Al-Baqarah 2: 222) in the following words:
They ask you about menstruation. Say: it is a state of uncleanness. Therefore, detach yourselves from women during their menstruation, and do not approach them until they are clean [from menstruation]. Then, when they have cleansed themselves, approach them, from where God has ordained you. Indeed God loves the repentant and He loves those who keep themselves cleansed. (Qur’an: 2:222)
The Qur'an, in the cited verses, has clarified that the 'detachment' from women prescribed during their menstruation, relates only to conjugal (sexual) relations with them. It does not imply that a woman during her menstruation should be rendered 'untouchable' during these days, as is the case in some societies and religions.
In the last part of the verse, a beautiful analogy is drawn between repentance and keeping oneself physically clean. A close look at the two phenomena shows that they essentially refer to the same thing from two different perspectives. Physical cleansing, as we know, refers to relieving the body from all such things that soil and defile it; Repentance, on the other hand, is in fact, the cleansing of the soul - i.e. relieving the soul from all such things that have the potential of soiling and defiling it. Thus, the last part of the verse declares that to deserve God's love, one should continually strive to keep his body as well as his soul cleansed.
10- Bathing After Menstrual & Puerperal Discharge & After Sexual Uncleanness
Bathing after menstrual and puerperal discharge of blood and after sexual contact has also been a part of all divine religions. It was also a common tradition among the Arabs, even before the advent of Islam, as an Abrahamic tradition. As has been cited above, the Qur'an has referred to a woman's bathing after the discontinuation of her menstrual bleeding. The same rules, as given in the Qur'an for menstruation, should obviously apply to puerperal bleeding as well. Bathing after sexual contact, especially before offering Salah, is also referred to in the Qur'an. The Qur'an (Al-Nisaa 4: 43) says:
Believers, do not go near prayers, while you are in a state of intoxication, until the time that you are aware of what you say and neither in a state of sexual uncleanness, until you bathe yourselves carefully, except that you only intend to pass through [the mosque].
The example set by the Prophet (peace be upon him) relating to bathing after sexual uncleanness, as reported in a number of narratives, entailed the following, sequential, steps:
1. Carefully washing hands; 2. Carefully washing and cleaning the organ, using the left hand; 3. Conducting the complete ritual ablution, prescribed for prayers, except for washing the feet; 4. Thoroughly washing the head while rinsing the hair; 5. Washing the whole body; 6. Washing the feet.
Hundreds of non-homeless people got a chance to share the city after dark, with homeless people who live in the city's streets every night. The annual #Dare2Share event was organized by the Denis Hurley Center and I Care and aimed at raising awareness of the plight of the homeless.
The 350 homeless citizens of Durban who attended the event, shared their stories with the non-homeless people. While many of them said they never imagined a life on the streets, others like Sinethemba Khaola admitted he lives on the streets because he is a Whoonga addict who does not want to live under rules.
“I have been here since 2009. I do not like it here but because I made some terrible mistakes in life I found myself here. I came here today thinking that we were going to get free clothes and blankets. I cannot say its all bad in the streets,some things are good, like the friends that I have made, they have now become like my family, we take care of each other. I must say that I am happy that we can talk to people who don't live on the street freely, without anyone feeling scared,” he said.
According to Njabulo Mngadi, who has been on the streets for three years, whoonga addiction among the homeless is a big problem. He said drugs were used as a coping mechanism.
“I never used to smoke or drink, but ever since I started living on the streets I was exposed to a lot of bad things, whoonga was one of them. Many of us want to quit but can't because we are scared of the withdrawal symptoms. I tried once to quit for a weekend, it was bad, I thought I was going to die. I wish more such events are held because no one wants to stay in the streets, we want help and the people must not judge us,” Mngadi said.
Raymond Perrier from the Denis Hurley Center said: “We shared food, music, prayer, health education and fellowship. About 200 people even shared the night by sleeping outside in the mall side by side. Many thanks to all who made the evening possible, all who provided goods and services, the staff and volunteers of DHC and iCare – and the big-hearted participants. Blue Security (and Metro Police) for keeping us safe.”
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You have so many good reasons to keep your family’s teeth and gums healthy. Their sparkling smiles. Being able to chew for good nutrition. Avoiding toothaches and discomfort. And new research suggests that gum disease can lead to other problems in the body, including increased risk of heart disease.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to keep teeth strong and healthy from childhood to old age. Here’s how:
1. Start children early. Despite great strides in decay prevention, one in four young children develops signs of tooth decay before they start school. Half of all children between the ages of 12 and 15 have cavities. “Dental care should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth appears, usually around six months,” Caryn Solie, RDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, tells WebMD. “Teeth can be wiped with a clean, damp cloth or a very soft brush. At about age 2, you can let kids try brushing for themselves -- although it’s important to supervise.”
2. Seal off trouble. Permanent molars come in around age 6. Thin protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth can prevent decay in the pits and fissures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sealants can significantly reduce caries.
3. Use enough -- but not too much -- fluoride. The single biggest advance in oral health has been fluoride, which strengthens enamel, making it less likely to decay. If your water isn’t fluoridated, talk to your dental professional, who may suggest putting a fluoride application on your teeth.
Many toothpastes and mouth rinses also contain fluoride. Fluoride should be used sparingly in young children -- no more than a pea-sized dab on the toothbrush. Too much can cause white spots on teeth.
4. Brush twice a day and floss daily. Gum disease and tooth decay remain big problems -- and not just for older people. Three-fourths of teenagers have gums that bleed, according to the ADHA. Along with the basic advice, remember:
• Toothbrushes should be changed 3 to 4 times a year. • Teenagers with braces may need to use special toothbrushes and other oral hygiene tools to brush their teeth. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist. • Older people with arthritis or other problems may have trouble holding a toothbrush or using floss. Some people find it easier to use an electric toothbrush. Others simply put a bicycle grip or foam tube over the handle of a regular toothbrush to make it easier to hold.
5. Rinse or chew gum after meals. In addition to brushing and flossing, rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial rinse can help prevent decay and gum problems. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can also protect by increasing saliva flow, which naturally washes bacteria away and neutralizes acid.
6. Block blows to teeth. Sports and recreational activities build healthy bodies, but they can pose a threat to teeth. Most school teams now require children to wear mouth guards. But remember: unsupervised recreational activities like skate-boarding and roller-blading can also result in injuries. Your dentist can make a custom-fitted mouth guard. Another option: buy a mouth guard at a sporting goods store that can be softened using hot water to form fit your mouth.
7. Don’t smoke or use smokeless tobacco. Tobacco stains teeth and significantly increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. If you smoke or use chewing tobacco, consider quitting. Counsel your kids not to start.
8. Eat smart. At every age, a healthy diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. A well-balanced diet of whole foods -- including grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products -- will provide all the nutrients you need. Some researchers believe that omega-3 fats, the kind found in fish, may also reduce inflammation, thereby lowering risk of gum disease, says Anthony M. Iacopino, DMD, PhD, dean of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry.
9. Avoid sugary foods. When bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars, they produce acids that can erode tooth enamel, opening the door to decay. “Sugary drinks, including soft drinks and fruit drinks, pose a special threat because people tend to sip them, raising acid levels over a long period of time,” says Steven E. Schonfeld, DDS, PhD, a dentist in private practice and spokesperson for the American Dental Association. “Carbonated drinks may make matters worse, since carbonation also increases acidity.” Sticky candies are another culprit, because they linger on teeth surfaces.
10. Make an appointment. Most experts recommend a dental check-up every 6 months -- more often if you have problems like gum disease. During a routine exam, your dentist or dental hygienist removes plaque build-up that you can’t brush or floss away and look for signs of decay. A regular dental exam also spots:
• Early signs of oral cancer. Nine out of 10 cases of oral cancer can be treated if found early enough. Undetected, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become harder to treat.
• Wear and tear from tooth grinding. Called bruxism, teeth grinding may be caused by stress or anxiety. Over time, it can wear down the biting surfaces of teeth, making them more susceptible to decay. If your teeth show signs of bruxism, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard worn at night to prevent grinding.
• Signs of gum disease. Gum disease, also called gingivitis or periodontitis, is the leading cause of tooth loss in older people. “Unfortunately, by the time most people notice any of the warning signs of periodontitis, it’s too late to reverse the damage,” says Sam Low, DDS, professor of periodontology at the University of Florida and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. Periodically, your dental professional should examine your gums for signs of trouble.
• Interactions with medications. Older patients, especially those on multiple medications, are at risk of dry mouth, or xerostomia. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of decay and gum problems. As many as 800 different drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect, says Iacopino, dean of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry. “Always tell your dental professional about any medications you take,” he says. A change in prescriptions may help alleviate the problem. Saliva-like oral mouthwashes are also available.
“Almost all tooth decay and most gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene,” says Solie. “We’re talking about taking a few minutes each day to brush and floss. That’s not a lot in return for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.”
ANC MP Makhosi Khoza has received death threats. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/ANA Pictures
Johannesburg - Factional battles within the ANC have allowed “ill discipline” to flourish. This is the view of political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu.
He was speaking about the KwaZulu-Natal ANC having taken a decision to institute disciplinary measures against MP Makhosi Khoza.
“It took long for the ANC to act because disciplining her would have seemed like she is being targeted on factional lines, not because she broke the rules of the organisation,” Mngomezulu claimed.
He said that judging by Khoza’s conduct, it was obvious that “it would come to this point”.
Mngomezulu said the ANC had been strategic in not acting on the matter promptly.
“It would have been easy to say action has been taken because she is in the faction that wants (President Jacob) Zuma out, not because she didn’t follow party rules,” he said.
He suggested the matter be handled in a delicate manner.
“Any negligence in handling this issue will have a negative impact on the entire ANC.
“Remember the ANC in KZN is not acting in isolation,” Mngomezulu said.
He said the party was clear that members could not take decisions that were against party directives and that the ANC in KZN is handling the matter only because Khoza was their deployee to Parliament.
“It is standard procedure in every political party that once a party takes a position, members vote according to the party position because they are in Parliament to execute the mandate of the party,” he said.
Mngomezulu said MPs could raise issues during discussions within the party but they would injure party unity if they spoke out independently against a party directive in public.
Luthuli House launched a blistering attack on its outspoken MP on Wednesday, when it said she had behaved like a “runaway fire”.
Khoza’s home province of KZN was even more scathing, charging her with indiscipline - a move that could result in her being withdrawn from Parliament if found guilty.
Khoza has in recent months broken ranks with the party and openly campaigned for a vote of no confidence against party president Zuma to be conducted through a secret ballot on August 8.
The latest attack on Khoza came after she shared a public platform with some of the fiercest critics of Zuma at Rhema Bible Church and joined them in their call for him to step down.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa on Wednesday slammed Khoza for showing gross disrespect to the party’s disciplinary code.
“Dr Khoza was a delegate at the party’s policy conference where a number of issues were discussed including state capture. A number of people spoke out against corruption at the conference.
“If you are a loyal member of the ANC, you would raise some of your concerns internally in the organisation. You can’t behave like a runaway fire.
“The actions of Dr Khoza are to weaken the ANC and to put the image of the ANC into disrepute,” Kodwa said.
He said people like Khoza were expected to advance the ANC’s agenda of social change, adding that her elevation to Parliament meant that the ANC had trusted her with the responsibility of being the “most developed to understand the disciplinary code of the ANC”.
“We know that some of the ANC members were being courted to cross to the opposition. They are pushing the ANC to the limit to force the party to act. We are not going to act recklessly.
“If we act, the party was going to appear to be intolerant to different views. It is shameless to share public platforms with the critics of the ANC,” Kodwa said.
But Kodwa nonetheless ruled out the possibility of bringing action against Khoza and similar ANC members, saying it was premature to do so.
Kodwa said Khoza’s action were aimed at discrediting the ANC before leaving “for higher echelons” in one of the opposition parties. But he declined to reveal the name of that party.
The ANC KZN, however, did not pull any punches in dealing with Khoza. It said in a statement that she was arrogant and the province would institute disciplinary measures against its parliamentary representative.
In the statement issued by provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli, the party said Khoza was not immune to the political discipline of the ANC.
KZN also accused Khoza of being part of a “convergence of forces” working to remove Zuma and ultimately the ANC from government. “Her public stunt and participation in platforms intended to replace the societal leadership role of the ANC constitutes a blatant betrayal of the core values of the ANC.
“Accordingly, the ANC provincial working committee has directed the ANC provincial officials to urgently and immediately institute disciplinary measures against comrade Makhosi,” Ntuli said.
ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma said the matter had been referred to the disciplinary committee and the process would start soon.
“She will be taken to a disciplinary hearing. Once the DC takes a decision, then that decision will be implemented by the organisation,” said Zuma.
Parliament on Tuesday provided extra security for Khoza following a series of death threats. Unfazed about the possible danger to her, she has continued urging parliamentarians to pass a vote of no confidence in Zuma next month.
Kodwa maintained that his party’s parliamentarians would not vote with the opposition, without saying what actions would be taken against members that defy the instruction.
“We do not want to pre-empt what is going to happen post-August 8 but ANC members would not vote with the opposition to oust its president,” Kodwa said.
He, however, hinted that in the past the ANC had acted severely against ANC members who had behaved similarly to Khoza. Kodwa made reference to ANC councillors in Tlokwe Municipality - who voted alongside the DA to remove an ANC councillor and mayor Maphetle Maphetle in July 2013.
On Wednesday night, Khoza did not respond to calls and SMSes.
Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) has been working on a program to attract tourists from Muslim countries, which particularly highlights visits to numerous Islamic heritage sites across the country, the agency’s chief Oleg Safonov.
“We are currently putting together a special program to attract tourists from Muslim countries to Russia, and we invite all interested parties to join the effort,” he said at a meeting dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Russian Hajj Mission, held in Makhachkala, the capital of Russia’s North Caucasian Republic of Dagestan. “As for luring foreign tourists, we see a significant potential. Apart from visiting Islamic heritage sites located all across Russia, they could also attend large-scale international events,” Safonov added.
In this connection, the Rostourism chief mentioned the Nineteenth World Festival of Youth and Students, scheduled to be held in Russia in October. “Next year, we will host the FIFA World Cup and we would surely like to see more football fans coming from Muslim countries,” he said.
In many Russian regions with a high percentage of the population that professes the Islamic faith, conditions have already been created for Muslim tourists, Safonov pointed out.
“Rostourism has been cooperating with market participants to carry out a federal project dubbed Halal Friendly, which is part of the Russian Hospitality comprehensive program,” he noted.
“This project is aimed at making travel around Russia comfortable for Muslim people. The task is planned to be achieved by taking into account their demands concerning accommodation and food, as well as by providing them with all the necessary information,” Safonov added.
According to him, there are more than 2,500 religious landmarks in Russia. “While implementing the Russia’s Sacred Places plan, written information and photos related to religious sites located across the country are collected in order to put it all on the national tourism website and publish guidebooks for religious people and pilgrims,” the head of the Russian tourism agency said.
Fear of land seizures prompts major rise in farm sales
The biggest mass exodus of farmers in 20 years has also been blamed on high input costs, low returns and currency woes.
Caught in a cash crunch with rising input costs and stagnating prices amid fears of land seizures without compensation, South African farmers are leaving the land in their droves, putting thousands of farm workers out of work and threatening to trigger a major economic crisis, reports The Citizen.
According to Landbou Weekblad, 20 640 farms in the country are currently up for sale. Many more farmers could pack up over the next year, industry experts say.
But selling farms is becoming increasingly difficult, they add, and many remain unsold.
Last month, Property24 said there were more farms up for sale than at any time in the past 20 years.
Agri-Sector Unity Forum chairperson Japie Grobler was worried that many farmers would simply give up over the next year.
He was concerned that many of them had failed to calculate the real costs of production.
“For a lot of farmers, the true costs of production are not calculated. What about overheads like electricity? It is going to be especially tough this year with the low prices and very high costs of production. We are going to face a lot of farmers not being able to farm for at least another year,” he predicted.
According to chief economist at Agri-SA Hamlet Hlomendlini, the annual turnover of farms for sale was normally 5% to 6% of the total.
However, current figures showed that more and more farmers were financially constrained and opting to sell.
“Being unable to recover from the drought might be one of the reasons leading to some of the farm sales that we see in the market. Fears of expropriation without compensation, to a lesser extent, might also be the reason.”
Hlomendlini recently raised concern that the major credit rating downgrades of banks last month could exacerbate the more than R144 billion debt crisis faced by commercial farmers.
Because farmers rely on financing from commercial banks and the Land Bank, the recent credit downgrade of the banks would have an adverse impact on the sector’s recovery.
The downgrading of banks meant that it would be more expensive for banks to borrow money and that might get passed on to consumers in the form of higher interest rates and/or bank fees.
“This will have a huge knock-on effect on the ways consumers and business can access credit to make purchases and plan their finances.”
The tough times could also mean thousands of job losses, because the farming sector accounted for 5% of all employment.
This was double the contribution of the mining sector and almost on a par with the transport sector.
“It is therefore fundamentally important that agricultural development must be made a national priority because agriculture is an area of growth, and it plays a crucial role in the broader economy.”
Grobler said that escalating production costs, some of which could be attributed to the recent drought, meant the industry’s collateral reserves were drying up, making credit access and the debt cycle even more strenuous.
“Reserves are now being emptied out and there is not a lot of collateral that farmers can use any more. They have used up everything.”
Hlomendlini said that in the past two months he had noticed an uptick of properties for sale.
However, he added that the spike in the number of farms for sale would not necessarily be a loss to the industry if they were being bought for the purpose of farming.
He also suggested that sales trends in farming property indicated centralisation and consolidation of the industry, with big farmers buying out smaller ones.
However, he added, South Africa’s slow economic growth and growing financial constraints were making commercial farms a hard sell.
The appointment of Bhengu follows the resignation of former acting CEO Thokozani Magwaza on Monday. Regional executive manager of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) Pearl Bhengu on Tuesday was appointed the acting CEO of the grants agency, the department of social development said on Wednesday.
“The Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, met with the staff of SASSA today, [Wednesday, July 19], and announced that Ms Pearl Bhengu, who has been serving as the Sassa Regional Manager in KwaZulu-Natal since 2012 will be the interim CEO of the Agency,” the department said in a statement.
The appointment of Bhengu follows the resignation of the agency’s former acting CEO, Thokozani Magwaza, on Monday, who stepped down after he mutually agreed to terminate his employment contract with Minister Dlamini.
Magwaza’s resignation came amid reports that he was being pressured to accept an exit package and that his life was under threat after he cancelled controversial workstream contracts worth R47 million on June 29, which were allegedly set up by Dlamini during the social grants payment debacle and were declared to be irregular by National Treasury.
Dlamini had partly blamed him and former social development director-general Zane Dangor for the social grants debacle earlier this year in March, which ultimately saw her and the ministry slammed by the Constitutional Court.
“The minister stated that the first priority of the Acting CEO is to stabilize the Agency and to ensure that it focuses on its Constitutional mandate of administering and paying social grants in line with the SASSA Act,” the statement added.