2 March 2018

Africa: Land Issue - South Africa Comes of Age

Photo: Agenda
South African Constitution (file photo).
editorial

Tuesday February 27, 2018, will be recorded in Africa's history as the day South Africa made the first tentative steps towards "a radical economic transformation" of the country to restore the dignity of the black majority. Whether the new President of the Republic Cyril Ramaphosa has the stomach to execute this historical mission will determine the final outcome. The one certainty for black South Africans is that they can count on our fullest support in carrying out this noble enterprise, in Ramaphosa's own words, to redress "a grave historical injustice" inaugurated on April 6, 1652 with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck at the Cape.

Many reactionary forces in South Africa and their Zimbabwean counterparts sneered when former President Robert Mugabe on May 20, 2015 called for a "second liberation" in South Africa, noting that its first black president Nelson Mandela had done little to empower his people and that blacks remained largely marginalised.

Since majority rule in 1994, only eight million hectares of arable land have been transferred to black people. This represents just 9,8 percent of the 82 million hectares of arable land, 72 percent of which remains in white hands. Whites constitute 8,9 percent of the South African population at about five million, in a country of 56,5 million, but obviously not all whites own land, meaning 72 percent of the arable land is in the hands of a tiny minority.

Blacks constitute 79,2 percent of the population, but own just 9,8 percent! Whites don't see anything wrong with this anomaly, after all South Africa has the most democratic constitution in the world.

So on this historic day on Tuesday this week the South African Parliament adopted a resolution allowing "land expropriation without compensation". The land reform motion garnered 241 votes for, with 83 against. Mmusi Maimane's white Democratic Alliance predictably opposed the resolution to return land to its rightful owners. (Any parallels with Zimbabwe's opposition are entirely coincidental.)

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema moved the motion, which got full backing from the ANC, IFP, NFP, UDM, Agang, AIC and APC, leaving Maimane isolated with his white gang. "Every land in South Africa should be expropriated without compensation and it will be under the State," declared Malema.

"The State should be the custodian of the land."

He said the EFF was not declaring war against any race, but "using the instruments and institutions of democracy to achieve the founding principles of the liberation in South Africa".

The next stage is the toughest. A Constitutional Review Committee must be established to review Section 25 (2) and 25 (3) which sets onerous terms under which land can be appropriated, including reasons for expropriation, the intended use and just, prompt and fair compensation.

Mature Zimbabweans would know that it was the stalling issue of full compensation for expropriated land, which finally broke the camel's back, leading to the trailblazing "fast-track" land reform, which earned the country crippling Western sanctions, which in turn had the unintended consequence of destroying Rhodesia's white enclave economy which Mugabe had allowed to remain.

We do not expect South Africa to follow Zimbabwe's modus operandi, which required "amadoda sibili" to "strike fear in the heart of the whiteman". Times have changed slightly, and we believe white South Africans, who occupy a majority of the land, will act "with a conscience", hopefully having learnt lessons from the intransigence of their kith and kin across the Limpopo, and recalling their exhortations to ANC supporters and legislators to act with conscience as they sought to remove former president Jacob Zuma from power.

It is time for the few whites who own the majority of the land to act with a conscience to avoid war and a jambanja-style operation.

The resolution on Tuesday must have hit with real impact given that white capital felt it had captured everything with the ascendancy of Ramaphosa. So South Africa must be ready for economic sabotage, blackmail of all sorts and capital flight. We have gone through all that. For Zimbabwe, the resolution in South Africa must strengthen our resolve to stay the course. Revolutions were never meant to be easy.

The quest for investment should not blind us to the long-term development needs of our country. Let's avoid aiming for cheap, easy victories. We still have a right to determine where we want what type of investment, which is long-term, and local beneficiation of our mineral resources.

This is not the time to lose the war to those who still maintain sanctions against our nation for taking back our land. Well done South Africa. Namibia is next. Zimbabwe, we are not alone anymore.

This is a moral and just war.

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