Gabriel P Louw
Research Associate, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author and Researcher: Health, History and Politics).
Corresponding Author: Prof. Dr. GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PUCHE), DPhil (PUCHE), PhD (NWU) Email: email@example.com
Keywords: land dispute, expropriate, land-grabbing, land ownership, land reform, realities, political history, radicalism, redistribution, revolution.
Ensovoort, volume 39 (2019), number 1: 1
Al-Khalili writes1, pp.7-8: One of the biggest drivers of change today is population growth, which is possible only because of technological change. We could not sustain a planet of 7½ billion without the changes in agriculture and food production that have taken place since the nineteenth century: in particular, the so-called Green Revolution that, in the middle decades of the twentieth century, combined the development of high-yielding crop strains with the availability of artificial fertilizers. Without those advances, billions would probably have starved.
But it is not clear that we can sustain a planet with more than 9 billion people on it, as it is predicted for 2050, without substantial further innovations, particularly in food growth and production and water resources. Most of the population growth will be in Africa and Asia – in countries that lack economics and infrastructural resources to easily accommodate it.
South Africa is one of the unfortunate African countries Al-Khalili refers to where the population is growing rapidly and where the economy has steadily gone down hill since the ANC took over with its orientation towards liberation and revolution. Poverty has begun to cloud the daily lives of especially the majority of the Black population. Infrastructure has deteriorated, leading to substandard education for the masses and an immense shortage in primary, secondary and tertiary training opportunities. South Africa is being overshadowed by growing unemployment; a lack of knowledge on education, economics and the future; poor agriculture management; ineffective use of land; and a national strategy blinded by racism. In this context there is one clear reality we might have to manage as soon as 2019: avoiding the devastating events that occurred in Zimbabwe and Venezuela from happening here. South Africa needs sound and emotionally balanced leaders, supported by an overseeing political leadership that is free from the post-1994 blemishes of corruption. Only leaders of high calibre would be able to plan the financial and economical future of the country.1-6 The warning issued by the CEO of Agri SA, Omri Van Zyl, sets off the alarm bells about the ANC elite’s ideas on ensuring foodsecurity:7: 9
If we say by 2050 there’s 80 million people in South Africa, we really need to protect the production base… rather than erode it.
The emotions around landownership can spell doom for South Africa if there is no rational thinking and economic wisdom to see the possible dangers for food and political stability. Hunger is already prominent globally – one in nine of the world’s population did not have enough food to eat in 2017. It is anticipated that by 2050, food production would have to be double that of today to meet the world’s basic needs. People who suffer hunger total 821 million, reflecting a rise over past three years. A report of the UN, titled8: 13: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, shows that the most hunger occurs in those countries where land is not managed wisely and strategically to generate enough food and where there is political radicalism with disrespect to landownership. Various food agencies warn that hunger is on the rise worldwide, especially in Africa8: 13: “Undernourishment and severe food insecurity appear in almost all sub-regions of Africa, as well as South America, whereas the under nourishment situation is stable in most regions of Asia”.
Local statistics released for 2017 to 2018 reflect that over 55% of South Africans live in abject poverty and with food insecurity. Almost 14 million have incomes that put them below the food poverty line (R17.48 a day), 17 million (20% of the total population) depend on state welfare for their daily survival, while 27.2% of the workable labour force is unemployed (a percentage that could be in reality as high as 50% and more). South Africa has been in a constant economic decline since 2008, with a continuously rising GDP debt and throws the country into a recession every now and then. The Western world may go into another recession by about 2021, and South Africa and some of the BRICS partners may be pushed into further poverty and an immense food shortage and job losses. Hopefully the next recession would not be the magnitude of the 2008/9 crisis or the Great Depression of the 1930s.9-13 Mulder14 reflects that more than 80% of farmers in Africa farm on two hectares or less, putting them into the category of subsistence farmers who can only produce for their families’ needs. This means that 35 sub-Saharan African countries lack food security and must import food. In addition, South Africa is set to have a 70% urbanized population soon, putting immense pressure on stable food production. This necessitates an effective commercial farming sector that uses land optimally. Mulder’s question is significant14: 4-5: “Do we want to move back to subsistence farming or instead satisfy the need for land in cities?” [Own translation]. In this context the editor of the City Press, Mondli Makhanya, writes14: 4-5: “We are wasting valuable time and energy trying to restore people to their peasant ways. Ordinary South Africans either do not want land or just do not have the capacity to work it. They want to go to cities and work in modern economy…” As far back as 2010 the Sunday Times reported14: 4-5: “The money and energy that is spent on getting peasants back into subsistence (farming) would be better used to create a strong class of black commercial farmers who actually do farm for commercial rather than sentimental reasons”.
In South Africa the harsh present realities are illustrated by the fact that only 30% of Black small-scale grain farmers out of about 3 800 are really productive. It seems to specifically be the small-scale grain farmers with farms of between 10ha and 50ha who are going nowhere.3: 10 The constant decline in the number of small-scale dairy farmers in the Free State — from 929 in 2009 to only 190 in 2018 (a total decline of 739), with 30 more farms in the process of closing down — is further evidence of the inability of small-scale dairy to be productive and to reach commercial farmer status. It seems that many of these 3 800 small-scale farmers failed even as subsistence farmers.3 The CEO of the national Milk Producers Organisation (MPO), Chris van Dijk15, reflected as follows on the inability of small-scale dairy farmers15: 3: “You cannot expect to make money by milking 100 cows. To break even on a dairy farm you need at least 320 cows, which a lot of Free State and North West farmers don’t have”.
The above indicates that irresponsible land reform can hamper farming with for instance grain and milk to a point where massive imports would be required, which would result in dramatic price increases, putting the poor under even more pressure. This should serve as a warning about the consequences of radical land reform. Overly emotional thinking and political manipulation should not be allowed to enter the mindsets of the poor and landless Black masses of South Africa so that they start seeing land grabbing as a solution to their immediate dire life circumstances, be it poverty, inequality or unemployment.3,15 When the masses become emotional and desperate so that they start viewing land redistribution as an absolute must, it can result in a replay of the far-reaching and tragic Cattle Killing (also described as the National Suicide) of the Xhosas under Kreli in Kaffraria and in the Black territories east of the Kei in 1857. This event caused the death of thousands of Blacks. Today such an event can result in devastating hunger so that millions of South Africans can perish of famine and internal conflicts in a fight for food.16,17 Ngcukaitobi’s18 argues that land redistribution goes further than just handing over White land for emotional reasons. He points out that if18: 23: “…the legacy is to be undone, the return of the land should be restorative of African humanity. Transactions about the ‘return’ of the land are incomplete without restoring the dignity of those whom the land was taken”.
He explains what was lost and pleads for the restoration of African identities, freedom, equality and political autonomy18: 23: “Land is not the only asset that was lost through colonial occupation. Cattle, farming implements, labour and human potential were taken away. African societies were broken up, their cultures ravaged and their identities erased”.
He views a “forward-looking” comprehensive reparative land project as most urgent, seemingly involving the expropriation of more than just land from Whites. For Ngcukaitobi18 land reform is only one facet of the process of radical economic transformation. His18 argument is still an emotional one, but it goes deeper than only the right of the “indigenous” Blacks to get ownership of their birth land and the right to live there. It seems to be based on a desire for Black empowerment to the extent where the South African soil is owned exclusively by Blacks. This is not necessarily an economically responsible system that would benefit society or the country as a whole. It is true that the past is linked to the present by emotion, but the present reality is no longer compatible with all the identities and customs of the past. Some of the Black African ideologies, freedoms and egalitarian practices are no longer reconcilable with the demands of modern life. Ngcukaitobi18 realizes this and he acknowledges the new realities and the fact that ideological thinking may perhaps not offer all the solutions18: 23:
“World Bank studies show an urbanization rate of more than 60% in the past 20 years in South Africa. The message is clear: the pure agrarian society in South Africa has been disrupted irrevocably. Access to rural or farmland will not satisfy land hunger. Urban land must be factored into the frame”.
It is clear that economic realities are becoming more important than political affiliations and emotional yearnings for the past. Economic and educational upliftment has spread to the poorest of South African society, and this changed the thinking of the masses. They live in the city and work at industries or businesses instead of living from the land.18 The extent to which the emotional rhetoric is a danger to the country is clear from Julius Malema’s words. Should these sentiments take hold, it can lead to anarchy19: 3:
We celebrate nothing else, because all other achievements are meaningless without the land being restored to our people. There is no more fear or doubt in their hearts; they know that it must be done, and say it openly.
Malema elaborates further19:3:
There is simply no way parliament can retreat on this question any longer. After all these consultations, one thing is clear: to retreat and betray our people on the demand for land expropriation will be to risk a direct revolution, which they will conduct on their own, wherever they are.
On that day, when our people take the land by force, the EFF will join in because the powers of the day would have refused to co-ordinate a peaceful, democratic and inclusive process that empowers the previously oppressed to have access to the land.
What makes this statement so irresponsible and so dangerous to future food production in South Africa, is the fact that Malema’s party has no clear understanding of democracy, economics, governance, human rights, legal rule or any idea of how to address the country’s problems with food shortages and unemployment. All they know is emotional rhetoric.20-22 What is more is that populists and aggressive activists forget that much of the best land in South Africa is in the hands of the state. The government is sitting on millions of hectares of agricultural land that is not productive because the Black tenants cannot raise capital. The ANC has failed miserably to support these farmers.7 The failure of the ANC to do something productive by helping Black farmers deserves more attention. According to Grain SA3, the country’s biggest organization for grain producers, nearly 70% of the Black grain farmers on small farms in the government’s assistance programme have failed to produce any crops because they have little or no access to financing to manage their enterprises. Jordan3 points out that the vast majority of these grain farmers, about 3 800, farm on government-owned land and therefore have no individual title deeds to offer as collateral to get loans from credit providers. This raises concern about the ability of the ANC government to make anything of land expropriation that could actually mean something to the poor and the landless.3
Grain SA3 shows that about 800 Black small farmers with farms of between 10ha and 50ha are basically dormant because of this finance stalemate. Jannie De Villiers3, the CEO of Grain SA, reports on them as follows3: 10:
“These are all potential commercial farmers but all of their land belongs to government. There is no finance there because they don’t have title deeds”.
This highlights the paradoxes in the land policy of the ANC. They want to establish masses of Black small farmers on repossessed White land, but if they failed to assist them over the last two odd decades since 1994, how on earth will the ANC regime supports them in the future? In this context Grain SA3 says that their own assistance programme for Black grain farmers teaches that when farmers have access to financing, the outcome is phenomenal. In their programme, 150 Black farmers produced more than 250 tons of grain annually. Grain SA’s successful intervention programme for subsistence farmers typically increased farmers’ yields from about one ton to more than four tons.
Proponents of land expropriation, such as Ramphele, Malema and Ramaphosa, seem to overlook the facts described above. There is little probability that the ANC would successfully establish large-scale Black farming.3,16,19,23 De Villiers3 and Grain SA3 have more questions about how the ANC government aims to manage the result their land expropriation plan. Who will be placed where, what will they produce, and with what funding?3: 10:
The issue is whether they will expropriate with or without title deed. If you are without [title deed] then we influence food security.
De Villiers writes further3:10:
In our pool, only about 30% of black farmers are productive, the rest are forced to just sit on the land. This is why we are saying we want a sustainable land reform programme. It must solve the problem, otherwise it will just expand the problem.
The ANC’s emotional responses to any criticism on the land expropriation policy reflect radicalism. South African billionaire Johann Rupert24 in September 2017 in Geneva openly criticized Zuma and the ANC’s “need for change in land ownership” by calling it “a mere cover for theft”. The ANC reacted by calling his criticism “ill-advised” and “Rupert rhetoric” without addressing any of his concerns. Land has clearly become a carrier of a Black-on-White aggression; it is no longer a White-on-Black assault. What is more, the debate on land has been carried by populistic journalism, with investigative journalism being all but gagged.24 The editorial of the Sunday Times of 17 September 2017 shows how even journalists steer towards liberation ideology when evaluating Rupert’s words. It reads25: 20:
Given the country’s history, where skin colour played a major role in whether one became rich or poor, he should have been more sensitive to the restlessness of the majority over the slow pace of change.
While we recognize the fact that Rupert has been on the receiving end of a racist propaganda campaign that has sought to shift the public spotlight from state capture by President Jacob Zuma‘s friends the Guptas by blaming the country’s problems on him, we do not believe that denying the need for a radical shift from current ownership patterns helps his case.
Rupert, and the [White] business community in general, need to accept and embrace the need for change as the status quo – where much of the economy is concentrated in a few hands – is unsustainable.
The editor has no acknowledgement of the part the ANC has played in the slow land reform. The editor has become an equal role player with his clear warning to Rupert that radical land transformation is a finality; A subject on which the White billionaire and every ordinary White citizen should keep quiet. He also fails to mention the millions of poor and landless Blacks, or the Black billionaires like Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale or Jacob Zuma — all of them landowners. He also says nothing about the sustainability of the resulting farms. The debate is becoming a power play with Black and White positions being reversed.25-28 Land ownership in perspective, is in South Africa a serious matter, and if we look beyond the rhetoric, it is clear that there are a number of problems. The first mistake was that the 1994 Constitution closed down the discussion on land transfer, and the leadership has not addressed it since. Khumalo29 indicates the confusion in people’s mind about this issue and the polarization between the different sides.
Khumalo writes in this regard29: 10:
The first policy debate out of the blocks this year is land. Land policy has gone through various rebranding, having started as land restitution, land redistribution and lately land reform, while the implementation kicked of as “willing buyer, willing seller”, then became “just and equitable”.
Now we are firmly in “land expropriation without compensation”, with a few caveats around food security.
All this should be a warning that ignoring or postponing the wrongs of the past and hoping they would sort themselves out is not sustainable. Hope is not a strategy.
The matter of land has to be settled soon and the solution should be viable and sustainable. It is a legitimate problem that has been ignored for too long. The writing of Ellapen Rapiti30 on the sensitive and explosive matter of land redistribution, with or without compensation, offers a wise warning that can not be ignored:30: 20
One can only hope that the ruling party will handle this delicate situation of land expropriation with prudence and caution before we end up with anarchy and civil war or become a pariah of the international community, something we can ill-afford after years of Jacob Zuma’s terrible leadership.
Land expropriation without compensation is something much more complicated and comprehensive than what the arguments, opinions and viewpoints show. For one thing, it is central to the ANC’s failure to rule effectively since 1994. The taking of White land will not solve Black poverty, inequality and unemployment. The ANC government does not add value to the economic, social and juridical integrity of South Africa. Land grabbing is a desperate attempt to find a short-term solution to the ANC’s crisis. It is also something sinister — farms is just the first in line in a long row of asset categories that can fall like dominoes in future.2,31 The issue of land goes deeper than just ownership. The inculcation of radicalism is one thing that should be discussed. It stems from a long history, and the article now turns to a discussion of the different radical points of view in an effort to sketch the background to the land issue.
1.1.1 The objectors to land grabbing
There is a clear initiative by some individuals and groups to oppose the envisioned change to the Constitution and land expropriation without compensation. It is not a uniform group and their motivations, agendas and aims differ. It will be correct to say there are some instances of opportunism, selfishness and racism; sometimes openly, but mostly hidden. The main adherents are White, of which the Afrikaners are the most.
At the same time, there is strong opposition from the formal business sector, which is capitalistic and democratically orientated. Their concern is the short and long term economic health of the country and its people, as well as the individuals and groups whose financial interests they manage. On the whole, the business sector is free from racial and ethnic interests in this debate.
Among journalists, there is also a strong group of anti-reformers, mostly representing the Afrikaner and White English-speaking media. Prominent is the presence of a strong group of seasoned Black journalists and experienced White English-speaking journalists who have become known for their objective, well-reasoned political arguments, opinions and viewpoints on the land reforming issue. They do not shy away from taking on the political role players of the country, be it the ANC or the Freedom Plus, Mandela or Verwoerd. This group forms a core that offers the public a balanced and constructive view on current politics.2,32-35 On the Afrikaner side, the most prominent organizations are Agri SA, AfriForum, Agbiz, Afri Agric, Solidarity, and the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), as well as Afrikaans newspapers such as Die Burger, Beeld and Rapport. Opposition political parties have an informal alliance to resist changes to the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation. This includes Cope, the DA, ACDP, Freedom Plus and IFP. There is also an ad hoc group of 17 organisations consisting of role players such as AfriForum, the Helen Suzman foundation, the Reformed Church, the FW de Klerk foundation, the DA, the FF-Plus, Cope, Agri Limpopo, and various business or cultural bodies like Solidarity and the IRR. These various entities are focused on the ANC’s attack on democracy and the present political discrimination against Whites with the undemocratic capture of White farms and capital. 2,32-39
These Afrikaner organisations, often sold to the public as the saviours of the Afrikaner, mostly address the land matter by means of legal avenues, financial support and public campaigns to request the public to support the resistance to land expropriation. They have also attempted to reach out to political leaders like President Donald Trump and the UN in terms of its Article 17 on human rights.2,32-35 The business sector is mostly represented by prominent institutions like the Minerals Council SA, Business Leadership SA, the Land Bank, Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) and the Reseve Bank. At the moment, all those who oppose expropriation are anxiously waiting for the outcome of the parliamentary hearings and the ANC’s possible actions via the parliament or the country’s courts of law to change the Constitution. Once this happens, these groups intend to use the courts and to approach foreign governments. The outcome of the test case on the interpretation of Section 25 could also affect the process.5,36-39
Ramaphosa’s determination with respect to this issue and his public challenging of Donald Trump has made it clear to the Afrikaner/White farmers that Ramaphosa intends to put them under much more strain in the future. Nair40 reflects this intention of Ramaphosa when he reports40: 4:
Land expropriation without compensation is going to happen whether South Africans, US President Donald Trump and the UN General Assembly like it or not.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made this clear at a business breakfast in Pietermaritzburg, where he told black professionals that he would not be apologetic about the government’s land reform programme.
The reaction of Donald Trump to the South African land reform matter was the direct outcome of AfriForum’s actions. The decision the ANC made at Nasrec has caused the objectors to rethink their efforts to avert land expropriation without compensation.36,41-43 For some Afrikaners the battle against expropriation is a last effort to regain lost power.42 They are aware of the danger they are in at present, as Munusamy11 shows: the country is characterized by a sustained political, economical, moral and societal decline that shows a permanently violent society at war with itself. She writes11: 18:
The rapid degeneration and erosion of values, the restlessness of people stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty and the lack of leadership can only mean that social upheaval in our country is inevitable”.
I do not know how the descent of our society will be depicted or remembered.
But it is unlikely that the political players who caused the collapse will pay for it.
The most profound suffering will be that of the victims of the fall.
Rumusamy reports further11: 18:
Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and ‘smash-and-grab’ attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark.
Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events have the potential to turn violent.
However, there is also conflict among these organizations fighting the ANC’s land expropriation intentions. Agri SA is often seen as not really representing the interests of farmers. Their views differ from those of AfriForum and the IRR. Theo de Jager2 sees this internal conflict among White farmers as a direct result of the ANC’s ability to create discord between farmers’ associations and a political environment where AgriSA stands out because of its direct communication with the ANC.2,37,38,40 White landowners (especially the Afrikaners) see their ability to attract the attention of Donald Trump as confirmation that they are victims of the ANC and Ramaphosa’s political wrongdoings, which has indeed became an international matter. They see the Trump tweet: “I have asked Secretary of State@SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizers and the expropriations and large scale killing of farmers”, as an international warning to the ANC to mind their ways when it comes to human rights and the Afrikaners. The indignant response of proponents of land expropriation on Trump’s tweet perhaps reveals that he had touched a raw nerve. The first touch to this nerve came a few months before when the Australian home affairs minister said he wanted to fast-track the immigration of White farmers to Australia because they are victims of the ANC’s ongoing political wrongdoings.2,11,37,40-48 The journalist Peter Bruce37 writes in this regard37: 20:
There’s no doubt AfriForum has had great success spreading its message of racial victimhood around the world. Last week it was Trump. A few months before it was Peter Dutton, the Australian home affairs minister…
With their role of warmongering in land grabbing, the intentions of political radicals, to make a change to the present ownership of land, go much deeper than radical land reform; it is an attempt to dismantle the 1994 dispensation and the Constitution. They regard the fact that the country has had a working democracy with very little strife or conflict for more than 25 years as something of very little importance. They feel that Whites are still being advantaged and that there has not been enough restitution. This argument is not without merit, but it does reflect a lack of understanding of the events of 1994 and the economic and political conditions the ANC inherited. Had the ANC called for a more aggressive Constitution in 1994, they would have started a war. The NP and its security forces were in a strong position in 1994 and for some time after that. The aim of the Constitution was also to safeguard racial peace and to facilitate the creation of a New South Africa. It put in place a system that was workable for bringing civil rights and capital to the Black majority. However, the ANC did fail the test of statesmanship and they did not improve the economy, but rather managed it into chaos. That being said, the Constitution with its clauses on land saved the country from a war that the radicals now want to restart.49-59 Calls for land reform are not limited to the EFF and the ANC, but also come from some members of the PAC. This political aggression is highly contagious and could have very negative consequences for the poor, unemployed and landless. Populistic rhetoric, bordering on warmongering aimed at White landowners, is prominent. The past is often described as Africans losing their own country to a minority of hostile and armed European colonists. This rhetoric holds great danger for the country’s political and economic stability and the people’s safety.29,49,56 Mthombothi56: 15 describes the risks56: 15:
There are those, of course, who won’t mind an outcome. It is fashionable these days to ridicule the settlement as a sell-out. Like the biblical Samson, they want to pull the house down. War is not a picnic. But if this lot were in charge of the negotiations in 1994, the country would probably have been plunged into a civil war worse than Rwanda.
Mthombothi’s56 warning is amplified by the various civil wars, like the war in Syria that has thus far left more than 12 million Syrians homeless and at least another 500 000 dead. It will take decades for Syria to recover to the point of being a functioning state. In Rwanda, East Africa, tribal massacres led to the death of 800 000 people in just 100 days (8 000 a day) in 1994.56,60 Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s inciting remarks about Whites give us an idea of the gravity of the situation. She is a respected member of the present ANC government and an ex-wife of Jacob Zuma. She uses radical myths bordering on hate speech to fuel the hate for Whites as landowners. Politicians like Dlamini-Zuma and Malema are prepared to sacrifice South African political stability to push their ideologies. Radicals have long painted Whites as criminals to gain support to strengthen their own political careers.50-59 Unsworth61 for instance quotes Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as saying61:1:
They [Whites] have been stealing ever since their arrival in this country. They stole our land.
Professor Ruth Hall63 of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), Western Cape University, emphasizes the recent parliamentary decision to accept the transfer of landownership without compensation from Whites, reflects official approval that it is “morally correct”. As result of the ANC government’s failure as a regime, the general populace is dissatisfied with the slow progress on urban land (plots and homes), work opportunities, affordable transport and service delivery.62,63 The recent land invasions, especially urban land, speak to more than just opportunistic and politically driven radicals. It is a kind of civil action on behalf of the poor. The ANC does not address this because it draws the attention away from the party’s inefficiency.62,63 The ANC regime needs a new, easy socioeconomic intervention to satisfy the revolting and impoverished Blacks.
1.1.2 The thorns you scatter can prick your feet one day
Many nationalist Afrikaners saw Apartheid as unbreakable and they believed in the integrity of NP leaders such as DF Malan, JG Strydom, HF Verwoerd and JB Vorster. The Afrikaner Broederbond (AB) was their trusted think tank, promising all nationalist Afrikaners a great future. In 1994, they thought that the Constitution buried the injustices in the past. But, in terms of the Herodotus Curse, injustice always returns in the form of revenge. In their political naivety, the nationalist Afrikaners never thought that the Blacks would act exactly like they themselves acted in the heyday of Apartheid. The envisioned land redistribution seems to be a bitter lesson for the Afrikaners/Whites that the thorns they scattered would come to prick their bare feet. The intended changes to Section 25 of the Constitution should be viewed within the context of the country’s past.42 Apartheid and its land grabbing was not an accidental phenomenon. It artificially protected the interest of the Whites. Their political thinking was short-sighted, opportunistic and selfish.42
However, the same can be said of the Blacks. During the Mfecane migrating tribes seized land and completely wiped out several tribes. Never did these early Black conquerors of South Africa think their reign would come to an absurd end. History and the vicious circle of conqueror–conquered are inseparable. The South African political history shows this well.42 History shows that any social class without capital of its own that is in conflict with an economically powerful class, tends to use state capital once it has gained power in an effort to initiate its own economic growth. It is therefore normal that the ANC did not hesitate to make the state an entrepreneur in the economic sphere to uplift the economically disadvantaged non-Whites. However, the land issue also involves retribution.42 Very few Black politicians are honest enough to acknowledge the bad governance of the recent years and the Black-on-Black exploitation in the history before the 1840s. Even the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg offers visitors the false history that portrays all Blacks as native and innocent. A professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University in New York, Bryan Massingale65, was mesmerized by the portrayals of history after visiting the museum. He professes in his writing65: 6:
One of my most moving experiences was an afternoon spent at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Yet I discovered that many South Africans are only dimly aware of the history narrated there, and many were never taught it at all. I believe that there is an urgent need for a truthful account of the nation’s history, including the realities of colonialism and apartheid and the struggles to overturn them.
What Bryan Massingale65 fails to see is that there are earlier political histories in South Africa than White colonialism and apartheid. Very few are willing to acknowledge or discuss the earlier Black history. The seasoned top journalist Barney Mthombothi56 and the writer and researcher Hlumelo Biko64 (the son of the late Steve Biko and Mamphela Ramphele), are willing to do so. Biko writes64:4:
In South Africa’s history, different historical periods have handed socioeconomic privilege to different groups. As many apartheid apologists like to hint, this predates European invasion of our beautiful country.
It is true that for some period in our history Bantu tribes dominated Khoi and San tribes. It is also true that the Mfecane further reallocated privilege across Southern Africa between vanquished and victorious tribes. Nguni/Bantu people should admit that this has led to inherent socioeconomic privilege in favour of multiple generations of our people.
However, Mthombothi56 and Biko64 still do not admit that the South African Blacks are, like the Whites, migrants to South Africa. This fact sheds light on the constant historical power play between Blacks and Whites and the conflict on ownership. The claim that Blacks have more right to the land is in actual fact a lie.42 Both Blacks and Whites have had turns to be in power. There seems no in-between, no compromise. The KhoiSan, KhoiKhoi, Indians and the Coloureds have never been fortunate enough to taste this power. These racial minorities are waiting for their turn to be in charge of the country, so the Blacks should take care in what they do.42,56,64
The question White landowners have is: What must I do now regarding my further landownership and the intentions of the Black regime? The final outcome of the matter will influence the future of their citizenship. This makes the question on land redistribution more comprehensive: What was done in the past, what is being done now and what can be done in the future around South Africa’s explosive issue of landownership to reach the best outcome?
1.1.2. The winner writes the history
Considering the current events in South Africa in light of its history may be correct, but then only with great caution. History can be abused and misinterpreted to suit the agendas of policy makers or activists, often with dire consequences.
De Groot66: 16 quotes John Berger’s words to illustrate this anomaly:
History is rewritten because new information emerges all the time. Fresh accounts of experiences, sometimes from unexpected sources, can alter the way we look at the past and change our minds about what we thought we knew.
De Groot66 elaborates further66: 16:
The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. What we see is not only interpreted through a filter of context and knowledge; our perceptions are also shaped by what we want and moulded by what we need.
The current discourse on land is an excellent example of the mechanism described above. Part 1 of this series shows that colonialism, internal war and displacement and nativism are all intertwined in the making of all the various peoples of South Africa and they are joint heirs to the soil. For further insight the literature, political writings and histories on which all the arguments, counter-arguments and threats with respect to land reform are based, must be studied. There are two sides to the coin of land ownership and land grabbing: the haves and have-nots, the legitimates and illegitimates, the thieves and the nobles. It is sometimes unclear who is who is often very, very unclear. This project of seven articles aims to unravel this.
1.1.3 Research overview
The background to the current land debate must be put into perspective to understand the roles of the various role players, processes and procedures on land expropriation without compensation and the intended change to Section 25(2)(b) of the Constitution. Only then can the different points of view be evaluated. The intention of this article (number 2 in the series) is to put the background into perspective and to describe and evaluate the determinants and role players involved in the process. The following articles of the series (Numbers 3 to 6) subsequently evaluate the arguments, opinions and viewpoints.
The different parties to the land debate in South Africa have started to form a kind of informal public court with the formulation of arguments, opinions and viewpoints and counter-arguments, opinions and viewpoints. The different parties offer evidence in the form of documents, journalistic writings or speeches.
The findings of the parliamentary commission who is investigation the nation’s views on changing the Constitution could kick-start a formal process to change the law. This will be followed undoubtedly by formal litigation in courts of law to counter or to support this change and to start land expropriation. The ANC’s intent to fight the current formulation of the Constitution is centre to this dynamic.
The process described above does not really reflect the general population’s view and preferences on the matter. A more in-depth look at the nation’s position on the change to Section 25 and expropriation without compensation is crucial. The only way to do this is to look at what the media reports on the matter. The project of which this article forms part, presents the arguments offered outside the walls of a formal court of law. It is only after such a presentation that an objective political and moral verdict can be made. It is clear that the histories of both groups are saturated by land grabbing. Labelling the two opposing groups in this dispute as the accused or transgressors versus victims or martyrs, would be incorrect, misleading and subjective. The ANC government in a sense functions as the defenders of the move to change the Constitution while those opposed function as the complainants who claims that their citizen’s rights and property rights are in danger. Articles number 3 and 4 examine the views of the complainants (mostly in this project refer to as antagonists), while articles number 5 and 6 examine the views of the defendants (mostly refer to as propagandists).
The present land debacle must not be seen as a duel of two fighters with one devastating intention: to kill the other one and the winner to grab the bait. Far from it: it must be seen as a civilised dialogue between two opposing blood-brothers, arguing the just dividing of the land they inherited from their late father. A solution to this troubled land matter must be found and for that they need an impartial conciliator to listen to both sides’ arguments, opinions and viewpoints to make sense, to come to a conclusion and to offer constructive suggestions, bringing a holding solution. This conciliator can be a judge, an objective member of the public or it can be you, the reader. Therefore I like to invite you to read in-depth further this project. I am looking forward to hear your anonymous pacification at the end (Please see my e-mail address above). It can be the ultimate solution the country is looking for.
1.1.4. Research aim and objectives
The aim of this article is to do justice to John Berger’s words in an effort to present new information that may alter the way in which both Blacks and Whites look at their communal South African past. The goal is to help all South Africans understand their past and present better so that they can make South Africa a better place in future.66 The information that emerges from the available literature on the matter of land redistribution brings us to two research objectives, namely: To examine the arguments in favour of keeping Section 25 of the Constitution as it is and continuing on the path of land redistribution with full compensation as from 1994 (Part 3); and: To examine the arguments in favour of a change to Section 25 of the Constitution for the implementation of a land redistribution policy without compensation (Part 4).
The first view would mean that land redistribution must be done in line with land expropriation in Singapore where the owner of the expropriated property is fully compensated based on market prices.
The second view would mean that although a change to Section 25 does not necessarily mean that land would always be expropriated without compensation, it would be possible. The ANC at this stage argues that it would only happen in extraordinary cases.
The main aim of this article (Number 2) is to describe the background to all of this as a foundation to reflect the arguments, opinions and viewpoints respectively of the antagonists (articles numbered 3 and 4) and the propagandist (articles numbered 5 and 6) later on.
The research was done by means of a literature review. This method has the aim of building a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is used in modern political-historical research where there is a lack of an established body of research on the ownership of South African land for the period 1652 to 2018 in South Africa. The sources included articles published in 2018, books for the period 1956 to 2018 and newspapers for the period 2017 to 2018. These sources were consulted to offer a perspective on the background to the dispute around landownership and contextualize the thoughts, views and opinions on today’s land grabbing as an age-old custom in South Africa.
The research findings are presented in narrative format.
3.1. South African historical-political sinkholes
As said previously, history is often written by the winner. As such, history can change as circumstances change and as new unique demands and people become involved.
The current debate serves as proof of this dynamic. The depiction of Whites as aggressors and Blacks as victims is a simplification of history. State president Cyril Ramaphosa for instance owns large and valuable pieces of land. Thirty per cent of the province of KwaZulu-Natal (± 3-million hectares) is owned by the contentious Zulu Ingonyama Trust. These riches have kept the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, in place since 1994.67,68 The matter of Black land ownership by large trusts and scores of people living on tribal land should receive some attention to clarify some of the arguments from both sides.
3.1.1 The untouchable Black property trusts
The Zulu King Zwelithini’s concern that the Ingonyama Trust will also fall prey to the intended land reform policy, led to his call on Zulus to defend their Zulu land as locked into the trust. He makes his threat to defend his monarchy’s land in Zulu: Uzolimala mawungalaleli (If you don’t obey, you will get hurt). Zwelithini’s went even further, pushing for KwaZulu-Natal to secede, forgetting that his kingdom makes up only 30% of the province. After Zwelithini’s hostile response to possible land grabbing, Ramaphosa immediately travelled to Richard Bay, bending the knee of the mighty Zulu king and assuring him that the government has no intention to seize their land. Some Zulus see Ramaphosa’s humble act of kneeling before their king as a gesture of emotional maturity, avoid a Khuzeka-scenario where someone gets hurt.67-72 This was a revelation, especially for the White landowners under attack. Ramaphosa’s assurance and promises to the king reveal how the whole process is about, namely taking land from Whites. Ramaphosa said to the King68: 4:
I said to the king as the ANC we have no intention whatsoever to ever touch the land under the Ingonyama Trust. The recommendation by the high-level panel [remains] a recommendation of the panel…we are not going to dissolve the trust.
I said, with respect, as the ANC government we have no such intention…the expropriation of land without compensation is not targeting the 13% of land under the control of traditional leaders.
Communal land is going to continue be under the control of traditional leaders because they hold that land on behalf of our people. The land we are going to target for expropriation is the 87% of land.
Ramaphosa’s promise on 6 July 2018 must be read together with the recommendations of the the High-level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change (from here onwards High-level Panel). Ex-president Motlanthe was appointed by the speaker of the National Assembly in 2016 to chair the panel that had to review hundreds of pieces of legislation on a cross-section of issues. This panel specifically recommended that the Ingonyama Trust must be repealed or substantially amended. Ramaphosa’s guarantee to Zwelithini overrules the Motlanthe panel’s recommendations and the report of the South African parliament. It demonized Motlanthe as if he alone made the recommendations and targeted Zwelithini. More important though, Ramaphosa prepared the path for a policy of not touching any established Black interests (including his own). The Ramaphosa decision is clearly based on the sentiments of the ANC party, dictated from Luthuli House and the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC). Zuma has elevated the ANC NEC to the unofficial parliament of the country, showing that state capture is not limited to money, but can also involve the legal system.67-71 The Motlanthe report was handed to Parliament in November 2017. It was only in May 2018 that ANC radicals and the various Black kings began to object after Motlanthe said that the majority of traditional leaders act like “village tin-pot dictators” and as independent rulers within the greater South African political system. He is in fact correct. There are a total of 840 traditional councils, a significant tribal influence on the ANC and in parliament. After Ramaphosa effectively exempted the Zulu king, the ANC-dominated parliament started to ignore its own report’s findings.71: 22 Ramaphosa’s view on the Motlanthe recommendation is described well by Shoba and Mthethwa68: 4: “He also assured the king that the high-level report is not the position of government and has not been adopted as government policy”. The ANC government does not see itself as subject to parliament. Apparently has Ramaphosa assured the rest of the king’s men, like the honourable Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, that this is a final decision. With this Ramaphosa put KwaZulu-Natal back in the final days of Apartheid. The province is once more ruled again by laws passed at the behest of the IFP and Buthelezi, forcing down the structures of traditional rule. Ramaphosa, as was done in 1994, confirmed Zwelithini’s power – political, social and economical – but it undermines democracy and prevents land reform free from racism and ethnicity. The ANC is siding with the powerful capitalists (but now Black), ignoring of the ordinary Black people, especially the poor.67,68
Who is Zwelithini and why is the trust so important? What is the Ingonyama Trust and what is Zwelithini’s position in it? How does the politics of KwaZulu-Natal fit into the South African land redistribution issue? Who is Zwelithini and why does he have such a hero status? In some way the talks occurred between a redundant tribal king and an insecure president from Venda (viewed as a lesser people than the Zulus) who represents a divided party. The excerpt of Mthobothi70 is very informative. It reads as follows70: 23:
The [Ingonyama] Trust is meant to exist and function subject to existing land rights under customary law and not act in ways that undermine and abrogate such customary and other underlying land rights. However, the Trust in some instances regards itself as the outright owner of land and therefore not subject to any duty to consult or to obtain community consent in dealing with the land. This has given rise to instances where the Trust has leased land to external third parties (for example the shopping centres) without having first consulted and obtained the consent of those whose informal or customary land rights were subsumed by the shopping centre.
The trust has introduced draconian rules, including 10% yearly rent increases, compelling lessees to fence the land within three months and the cancelling of leases for failure to pat rent. Moreover, structures on the land remain the king’s property.
Significant revenue is generated for the Ingonyama Trust by such lease agreements. In the 2015-16 period, rental income was R96 130 563. There is little evidence that the revenue generated by leases is used for the benefit of communities or their material wellbeing.
By 2020, the trust will earning over R100 million a year.71 The legitimacy of Zwelithini as the king of the Zulus has always been controversial. This includes his family’s inheritance of the Zulu throne the Ingonyama Trust. The ruling that made him the only monarch in KwaZulu-Natal is especially debatable. Mnguni’s69 research proposes that the Hhlapo Commission traces the establishment of the Zulu monarchy back to Shaka (a leader known for his murderous inclinations) after he took power over the Zulus in 1816. The present kingship comes from that line. The Nhlapo Commission indicated that the Zulus composed of several communities before 1816, a kind of loose federation. The Ingonyama Trust is a trust that was hurriedly created a mere three days before the 1994 general election as a direct outcome of the political events of that time. It has nothing to do with the traditions and customs of the Zulu people or the Zulu monarchy. There is no similar trust in the country. It is a land administration tool, subject to being repealed or to change. This is in line with the Motlanthe finding and contradicts Ramaphosa’s interpretation.69,71
Many South Africans do not know the difference between the Zulu monarchy and the Ingonyama Trust, something that suits the king. The trust is in reality land that belongs to the Zulu people and not to the monarchy, although Zwelithini has great influence. The monarchy owns only the Osuthu palace in Nongoma. Without the trust, there really is no great Zwelithini monarchy. The Motlanthe panel found that the Ingonyama Trust Act (3-million hectare of KZ of 1994) is an imperfect piece of legislation. The intent was that the land (now for all practical intents and purposes used as the land of the monarchy) would be measured out into specific properties and then transferred to the tribes and communities who live on the specific piece of land as stipulated in the Bantu Authorities Act (68 of 1951). In reality, the trust land has been divided (but never transferred) among clans under the leadership of traditional leaders, who are responsible to the king in terms of customary law. The Ingonyama Trust is headed by the sole trustee, King Goodwill Zwelithini.69,71,73
Mnguni69 writes on the many contradictions of the Ingonyama Trust69: 24:
This [transfer] has never happened. The king is benefiting from having smartly navigated the country’s vulnerability before the 1994 elections. He wishes to continue benefiting from such an imperfect deal. The king, as the Motlanthe panel found, exercises far greater influence than the national minister does in similar areas elsewhere in the country. This means people in KwaZulu-Natal suffer a more precarious state of land tenure than do rural folks elsewhere.
The ANC government has failed to transfer the land to communities and individuals as required by the Bill of Rights. Mthombothi70 describes Zwelithini and his empire as follows70:23:
It’s become a state within a state: he controls the land and people pay taxes to him. No wonder he feels threatened by attempts at land reform.70
Mthombothi’s70 view is echoed by Ngcukaitobi18 and Cousins71 who emphasise that in these cases the land ownership indirectly lies with the state. The land is under the custodianship of traditional leaders countrywide. The state has the power to redistribute the land to enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis. The trusts and custodianships have been subject to much abuse. Tribes act like mini-states. This is evident from the numerous deals chiefs and mining companies in North West, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. It is not only the Ingonyama Trust that could be affected by the intended land reform.
Ngcukaitobi18 writes as follows on the dissolution of these trusts18:25:
The [present] constitution was intended to reverse this [White colonial state] by recasting the relationship between African communities, their chiefs and the land.
Thus, for redistribution to succeed, it should uproot the colonial state and its surviving tentacles: the people, not the chiefs, should control the land.
There are also instances where Black communal land has been seized to please homeland regimes like that of Buthelezi and Zwelithini. One example is the 345 hectares of farmland that makes up the farm Blinkklippen in the North West province. It was legally sold to the family Moeletsi/Mogale for ₤511 in 1913. The family Moeletsi/Mogale’s ownership rights were transferred to the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe in 1936 without any choice or compensation by the native government and then to the government of Bophuthatswana in terms of the Bantu Homelands Constitution Act (21 of 1971), leaving the family landless to this day.74
Notwithstanding clear constitutional guidelines (including Section 25) president Ramaphosa seems to wants to maintain the powerful tribal Black leaders, to the detriment of the poor masses. He bases seemingly his views on the ANC’s document Ready to Govern, published in 1992, which referred to the acquisition of land through expropriation.18 Greed and self-enrichment is undoubtedly a motive of the Ingonyama Trust. The trust has built up very substantial financial reserves. It is an excellent money-making scheme for Zwelithini. These riches support his political power. He influences the ANC, as he could call for war in KwaZulu-Natal. The National Party of the 1990s similarly feared Buthelezi and his IFP. The ANC-run KwaZulu-Natal province contributed R65.8 million to the trust in 2018 and paid the king an annual salary of R1 million. The ANC leaders have always been running to please him. Zuma, before his exit as president, visited him; Ramaphosa and the top six of the ANC paid homage to him after their election at Nasrec in December 2017; even Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema went to Nongoma to honour him.67-71,75
Mthombothi70 provides insight into these tribal chiefs with whom Ramaphosa now sided to recreate the old Bantustan system that the Constitution and the ANC (especially their leaders Mandela and Mbeki) themselves sought to demolish in 1994.70 He writes70: 23:
Why have the tribal chiefs who were apartheid’s handmaidens not so long ago and on the run from comrades during the turbulent 1980s suddenly become assertive and even bellicose in the era of democracy? They lived large under apartheid and they’re still, as it were, lords of the manor in the new dispensation.
Mthombothi70 shows that chieftainship is the very antithesis of a democratic system because of its autocratic and suppressing inclinations, stripping the voters of their rights and interests. With Ramaphosa’s re-empowerment of chiefs and their trusts, he shamelessly re-establishes dictatorial enclaves within the democratic South Africa. Mthombothi70 reflects70: 23:
…they don’t want people to own land, or have title deeds. They want all land to be owned by the government and for people to lease. That’s not freedom; that’s slavery. It takes us back to the 99-year leasehold that used to be offered to black people under apartheid.
The ANC’s submission to traditional leaders led to them dropping the crucial clause in the Traditional Courts Draft Bill that gave citizens the right to refuse to be subject to traditional courts. This was done despite opposition from civil right activists and the parliamentary warning that this would render the bill unconstitutional. The government argues foolishly that the opt-out clause would nullify the existence of traditional courts and the power of traditional institutions like the National House of Traditional Leaders and the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa). The Bill empowers the traditional courts to rule on monetary matters involving up to R15 000 and bars those aggrieved by the decisions of traditional courts from challenging these in the magistrate’s or high courts. This implies that appeals could be filed with only the traditional high courts (the headman’s court, the chief’s court and from there to the king or queen’s courts). The chair of the justice portfolio committee, senior ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, supports the creation of another independent Bantustan model with a discriminative independent traditional court system. In his view there is a clear need because76: 4: “…some magistrates and judges know nothing about indigenous law”.
The present courting of the old Bantustans is in conflict with former president Zuma’s announcement in 2010 that six of the 13 kingships in place then would be ended when the incumbents died. The focus on White land reflects racism. This is a tragic reality that White landowners must face. Land redistribution can be radical and could end in destruction. Sections 9 and 195 of the Constitution, which Ramaphosa himself helped draft, describe the equality of every citizen, White and Black, landowner and landless, rich and poor. Subservience to tribal leaders and political Black radicals is incompatible with equality. Equality, for Ramaphosa, lies in his understanding of “his people”, which seems to be elite Blacks. Ramaphosa is bringing disaster to land reform by not implementing the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (31 of 1996) to stop abuses of trust land by crooked chiefs; not only through by stealing the income generated from these trusts, but also by losing large areas of arable and grazing land and to mines and allowing the pollution of the water sources of communities and individuals.69
It has become an open question how the ANC government hopes to make a success of their intended land reform. They could not make a success of their own plans to reform Black trusts to benefit Black individuals and communities. Cousins71 gives a simple, but clear declaration71: 22:
In addition, there has been mounting evidence of corruption in relation to land, including the notorious Mala Mala land claim and many cases involving South African Fruit Exporters and Bono, their BEE partner.
Debates about expropriation are raising the temperature for the middle classes, capital and the urban elite. Sadly, few seem concerned about continuing processes of dispossession of ordinary black South Africans.
Cousins71 also describes the hand of the ANC government and its elite in these crooked set-ups Cousins71:22:
The ANC government has colluded with both chiefs and mining companies in these forms of exportation without compensation.
Nkwinti [previous minister of rural development and land reform], as trustee of state land, failed to require elites to consult people, or to ensure that his department implemented the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act, and sided with traditional councils against community members.71
The planned land redistribution is said to be aimed at uplifting the poor and landless Blacks at the cost of the beneficiaries of apartheid. The question is, will the intended land redistribution be another failure? Will only the ANC elite benefit? The response of a Mister Rubosweni Mmelene74 at the North West hearing at Rustenburg in July 2018 says it all when he said he wanted to support the constitutional amendment but feared the effects of rampant corruption in the North West will make the exercise fruitless74: 22:
I understand 87% of land belongs to whites. I want to agree with the amendment but because of the corruption in this province, it is difficult.
Ramaphosa has thus far failed to address the corruption, what will change now? He initially warned against land grabbing, but he has become either silent or more extreme.56: 15 It seems the ANC wants to erase South Africa’s past. There have even been efforts to erase the Whites’ past by efforts to forbid the sale of any Afrikaner of White memorabilia, even an old chair from the Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorwegmaatskappij (NZASM) dating from the old Kruger republic.42 Haji Mohamed Dawjee wrote in the Sunday Times as recently as the 7th July 201877: 18:
Why is this [selling of Afrikaner-memorabilia] allowed? The sale and auction of Nazi memorabilia, for example, is banned in several European countries, including Germany and France. Why? Well, firstly, because they are reminders of monstrous crimes against humanity. Another reason is that preventing their sale means preventing (to an extent) anti-Semitic [seemingly here anti-Black] behaviour.
People in many countries who want to glorify Nazi Germany and all that it stood for by collecting relics and creating shrines in their own homes will find it very, very hard to do so because it is illegal to purchase or sell any material that is a manifestation of that fascism.
In South Africa, it is the opposite.
When will we draw this line?
Grey60 describes the above racial cold-bloodedness and irrational thinking of political radicals as follows60: 144:
“Human beings had incredible ways of inventing rational excuses for what they did or were going to do”; and: “Persuasion came through habit as much as logic, and human beings were indeed incredibly suggestible”.
Rwanda’s 800 000 deaths in 100 days of civil war, and Hitler and Stalin’s murdering of millions and millions of opponents in the eight years of World War II, confirms the tragic outcomes of these invented rationales, driven by habits, logic and suggestibility.42,60 Readers who are concerned about their property and their citizenship are advised to read Thabo Mbeki’s South African Reconciliation Act and his views on humanity and citizen’s rights. It reveals the intentions of some Black political radicals to eliminate Whites as citizens in South Africa and to end their land ownership.77-79 Thankfully the trust land issue can cause the intended grabbing of White land to boomerang under the watchfully eye of the courts. Bruce posits80: 20:
The ANC will have to take on traditional leadership. And it cannot make laws that distinguish between white and black. The courts would tie it up forever.
3.1.2. The Royal Bafokeng Nation
The events surrounding the Ingonyama trust begs the question of what waits the Royal Bafokeng Nation’s land trust and its riches. Will this land trust and its king, King Leruo Molotlegi, be treated the same as King Zwelethini and its Ingonuyama Trust?67-72 The context of the Royal Bafokeng should be considered here because it is very important to see if Ramaphosa will recognize their trust land as part of the 13% of Black land exempted from expropriation or if the platinum-rich Bafokeng land will be attractive to the ANC. The Bafokeng are fewer in number and they have less political power than the Zulus. This section compares the Bafokeng, the Zulus and the ANC with regard to leadership. Noor-Mahomed73 comments on the important role of effective and honourable leadership in the correct and honest management of land to improve the socioeconomic conditions of communities and to ensure political stability. Land grabbing is not part of such a scenario. Noor-Mahomed writes73: 9: “…we must…examine the equality of our leaders and study their narratives to see whether their interests align with the rostrums of democracy on which they so proudly stand”.
The successes of King Leruo Molotlegi and his traditional leadership structures and elected village and regional representatives stand out in this regard. They directly consult with the people at several levels to foster an economically and socially strong Bafokeng community, totally in contrast to King Goodwill Zwelinthini and the elites of the ANC.
Since coming to the throne, Molotlegi, with visionary and democratic leadership, has improved the socioeconomic status of his Bafokeng community of 150 000. They live in 29 villages on 1 200km2 of land in the North West province. Molotlegi unselfishly focused on relevant development and fresh and creative thinking. Their land holds the world’s richest platinum reserves, bringing unprecedented wealth for the community. Molotlegi turned these reserves into businesses. They have a 13% share in Impala Platinum; they are the majority shareholder in their own mining and refining company; and they hold interests in companies in the financial services, telecommunications, property and transport services sectors, writes Noor-Mahomed73. What is important is that all the resources are held in trust on behalf of the Bafokeng people, while the investments are managed by a company, Royal Bafokeng Holdings. Although Moltlegi leads as king, he does not make decisions alone when it comes to how the collective resources of the Royal Bafokeng Nation are used. The traditional leaders and village and regional representatives all participate. The income generated is used to better the living conditions of the people, creating employment for 4 000 people and spending more than $700 million (R9.3 billion) on improving infrastructure like roads, utilities, schools and clinics in their area. The group’s visionary leadership is evident from their strategic planning for further socioeconomic growth. Three branches have been established to develop, benefit and support the entire community.73 The ANC can learn a lot from the Royal Bafokeng Nation.
3.2. Testing the ideas around land reform and expropriation without compensation
3.2.1. Is there a need for an Afrikaner/White farming sector?
It is important to examine the current land ownership. The total Afrikaner population stands at about ± 2.7 million (total White population: ± 5-million). The ratio between the ±35 000 commercial farmers to the rest of the Afrikaner population is 13:1000 or 1.3%. If all 35 000 farmers are Whites, which they are not, the ratio would be 7:1 000 or 0.7%. There is an almost insignificant correlation between the broader Afrikaner/White population and the Afrikaner/White farming population in terms of financial interest, like ownership or income from farming. The direct impact of lost farmland on most Afrikaners/Whites outside the farming sector would be minimal.42 Louw42 shows that many Afrikaners have started to cut the cord with the “Afrikaner-volk”, especially the younger generations. What these neo-Afrikaners want is political stability and a good living standard with affordable food on the table — it does not matter if the food is from Zambia, Argentina, produced by a White or Creole or Black Brazilian or South African. These Afrikaners do not really mind who rules the country, as long as it is a stable and responsible regime. Many of the emotive rhetoric on land grabbing does not come from the broad Afrikaner/White population, but a small band of Afrikaners/Whites individuals and groups with direct financial interests in agriculture, like Agri SA, AfriForum, Solidarity, some Afrikaner media and the FFP, who Louw42 calls the Afrikaner/White’s self-appointed rescuers and saviours. These groups represent at most 15% of Afrikaners/Whites based on their membership.2-5,16,19,23,42
Some of their rhetoric is as dangerous, inapplicable and inappropriate as that of Julius Malema and Cyril Ramaphosa. Much of this rhetoric reflects the old ideology of hard-core Apartheid. Rhetoric from the English media (which includes Black and White voices) is mostly focused on land for housing and the financial loss that expropriation without compensation can bring for present landowners. The English media is also more focused on the effect that land grabbing can have on future local and foreign investments. One can safely say that the Whites and neo-Afrikaners outside the farming sector have accepted that a new generation of South African farmers has to be born as quickly as possible to ensure food security. These new generations of farmers can be, and must be to a certain extent, Blacks.2-5,16,19,23,42
Part of the irrational thinking and often false presentation of land as a matter of great concern to all members of the “Afrikaner volk” and White society, are the false argument on the absolute need for an Afrikaner/White farming sector because only they can ensure food security. It is plain nonsense. Any race can contribute constructively as farmers if their circumstances are optimal. This is actually how the Afrikaners/Whites established themselves. There are American, Asian, British, Nigerian, Palestinian, Jewish, Algerian and many other farmers who are not only successful commercial farmers in their own countries, but also contribute to global markets. In South Africa there are established commercial Black farmers already contribute to food security. The evidence shows that when Black farmers receive the necessary financial and technical assistance, they become excellent farmers. Why would Blacks not be able to become successful farmers in South Africa?3,16,19,23
The fact that Afrikaner numbers are declining while the Black population shows a constant growth also means that a new generation of farmers would have to replace the current generation of farmers. Why must these replacements only be Afrikaners? In this regard Mthombothi asks81: 25:
There is also the question of whether white farmers are a special breed who requires special protection.
The over-estimation of Afrikaner/White farmers as a special, untouchable group in South Africa is also contradicted by Dr Theo de Jager2, the president of the World Agricultural Union and Galileo Capital. He mentions that even if all White farmers voted for one political party, these votes will not be enough to assure one parliamentary seat. He remarks2: 3:
On a count-group basis the white farmers are irrelevant. The ANC does not need to take notice of farmers [Own translation].
In systems where the majority gains control of the politics and economy, the best balance between the interests of the majority and the minority is attained by way of a natural process and sometimes statutory prescription. Land ownership and farming are such prominent issues. Sometimes land transformation happens in a very orderly fashion and sometimes they are chaotic. South Africa is now in the middle of this normal process of economic, political and statutory balancing. Land reform should not be an emotional issue, but a rational issue.
South Africa currently has about 5 million Whites versus ± 55 million Blacks, or a statistical ratio of less than 1:10 or 10%. The ratio of White farmers to Black farmers looks significantly different. There is definitely a need for able Black farmers with financial backing. To answer Mhtombothi’s81 question: White farmers are not a special breed and do not require special protection to ensure food security.81
Does the ANC favour Black Africans over Coloured, Indian and White Africans? The same mechanism at play between Blacks and Whites on land ownership is developing between Blacks and Indians and Coloureds. It was only in 1969 that the ANC at last admitted all races as members. Jacob Zuma’s said at the World Economic Forum in 2017 that when South Africa talks about radical economic transformation (RET), it means a change that leads to inclusive growth, which includes forced land redistribution, Black ownership and management of companies, and the hiring and training of Black people. The focus is undoubtedly on Africans and not on all non-White races. Brun82 explains the focus on Black empowerment as follows82:22:
There has to be an acknowledgement that during Apartheid Black South Africans were treated unfairly at different levels, with Africans being discriminated against the most. The current transformation legislation now treats all Blacks equally.
To get to this outcome, legislation must be adjusted, as intended with the change to Section 25(2)(b), to aim RET specifically at Africans. They view Coloureds and Indians as “merit Blacks”, not as deserving of empowerment.
The ANC has allowed anti-Indian sentiment into its political and racial ideology from 2002. Mbongeni Ngema’s anti-Indian song AmaiNiya; Fikile Mbabula’s comment in 2007 that “transformation had turned the University of KwaZulu-Natal into nothing but Bombay”; Mzwanele Manyi’s suggestion “that there were too many Indians in KwaZulu-Natal”; the claim of an “over-concentration of Coloureds in the Western Cape”; and Julius Malema’s derogatory reference in to Indians as amakula in 2010 as ANC Youth League leader, serve as examples. Professor Milton Shain84:22, an emeritus academic at UCT, shows how this is a departure from the 1969 decision to regard these races as fellow victims of apartheid. Shain posits that the Freedom Charter and the social contract of the ANC with the people to guarantee equality in 1969, started unravelling in the days of Thabo Mbeki.84 Ramaphosa, Zuma and Malema have also pointed to the Whites as the only land grabbers in history. Shain writes84: 22:
…more recently, he has described whites as central to South Africa’s problems. He even added the qualification ‘at least not now’ after claiming that blacks were not calling for the slaughter of whites.
No white person, he says, is a rightful owner of land in South Africa and the whole African continent. As far as he is concerned, whites unhappy with expropriation of land without compensation ‘can go to hell’.
Onkgopotse JJ Tabane,85 a radio and TV talk show host, an author and a former member of Cope (Congress of the People), takes the degrading of the Whites further in reaction to Mosiuoa Lekota’s remark that it will be safer and more manageable for the government to place Black refugees in need of care in refugee camps. Lekota, in response to the ANC’s claims that Whites are not indigenous South Africans, dared to ask the question: Who are our people? Tabane immediately classified these refugees as “fellow Africans and comrades”, while going on to attack the Whites (and Lekota) as follows85: 26:
According to your bizarre logic, white people who stole land from our people must be left alone to own that land because when the ANC argues that land must be returned to our people your retort is: ‘Who is our people?’ So whites are our people and African refugees are not. Wow, Ntate Lekota, you are no different from Helen Zille, who called black people refugees in the Western Cape and glorified colonialism by seeing a silver lining in it.
However senseless and absurd Tabane’s85 remark is, it reflects the views of a large contingent of radicals in the Black political community. This view is now expanding to include Coloureds and Indians.84,85 Shain’s84 reflection on Malema’s views, which is similar to that of the radicals at Luthuli house and in the Zuma inner circle in KwaZulu-Natal, should serve as a dire warning and wake-up call for Whites, Indians and Coloureds84: 22:
Malema’s discourse reflects wider intellectual currents. But his oeuvre is not classically fascist. He shares none of the innovative thinking associated with serious fascist thinkers. On the other hand, as was the case with many European fascists, Malema’s political instincts are impressive. He shares with them an ability to build alliances and co-operate with elites. Political space is, after all, necessary for success. His populism and hostility towards whites find fertile grounds in a society with glaring racial inequality and poverty.
Today Malema holds a sword over whites. Will he abandon respect for democratic liberties in a violent search for redemption and internal cleansing? We do not know.
What we do know is that historically the trajectory of each fascist movement has been related to the national context, cultural traditions and contingent circumstances. Malema knows and understands this well.
Revolutions can be born slowly over years, as under Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe. At other times, like with the Russian Revolution of 1917, it begins quickly. When looking at the ANC government from 1994, one sees a slow-developing political revolution. All that is needed is to steer the views of Malema and Ramaphosa towards the fertile soils of disillusionment, inequality and poverty-stricken Blacks and to paint the White society as the evil and the primary reason for all the problems Blacks and the country is experiencing.24,42,86 Can exclusive capitalism ever be replaced by inclusive capitalism to solve South Africa’s poverty, inequality and unemployment?
South African land reform is needed. Comprehensive upliftment and orderly capital redistribution is needed, something in the line of Barack Obama’s focus on inclusive capitalism. This is a very fluid concept, but there should be a focus on social capital that benefits the whole society as the primary beneficiary, not on individual, exclusive capital. The Obama economic ideology is far removed from the views of the radicals within the ANC. The ANC has a “grab and run” approach to the riches of Whites, but it has failed to improve the lives of Blacks since 1994. Comprehensive and orderly socioeconomic and personal development is central to inclusive capitalism.87-90 An excellent example of what inclusive capitalism is not and how the ideology can be hijacked and abused by the radicals of the ANC, is the writing of Oscar Mabuyane90, the ANC’s Eastern Cape provincial chairman90: 18:
At the heart of the priorities of the ANC is to grow South Africa’s economy so that we can radically transform our socioeconomic fabric by eradicating the poverty, unemployment and inequality ravaging our communities.
In the January 8 statement read by Comrade President Cyril Ramaphosa, we committed to fundamentally renew the ANC, restore its credibility and bring it closer to the masses of the people it was formed to serve so that we can unite South Africans around a shared vision of transformation.
We believe this will be the foundation on which we will be able to mobilize social partners and other patriots behind the economic recovery plan to grow the economy beyond the levels that existed when Comrade Thabo Mbeki was president.
We agree that to be able to drive the recover of our economy, we must confront corruption and all forms of state capture. We need to cleanse the ANC and the government. Equally, the private sector and society must be cleansed of corruption.
We are committed to achieving the vision of free higher education for the poor. When working-class children receive education, skills and training, they will have opportunities to start their own businesses through the support of government agencies, benefit from the public and private-sector procurement, and get jobs.
The private sector must commit to large-scale transformation so that together we may train young people and give them contracts to supply goods and services to all sectors of the economy.
In line with the resolution to expropriate land without compensation, we will accelerate land redistribution and agricultural development so that those who receive land through land reform programmes will use that land productively by engaging in commercial agriculture.
The outdated Marxist terms of “we” and “comrades” are prominent in Mabuyane’s writing90, even though the ANC is at the moment estranged from the hard-core communists in the SACP and Cosatu. The whole “declaration” is based on things the ANC has acknowledged in public that it has failed the public since 1994. The question is how can they do better from 2018 onwards, especially in the light of their declining political power? Where does Mabuyane90 get his strange ideas on the South African economy? Mabuyane’s90 views do include expropriation without compensation. This idea of stealing from the rich to empower the poor has occurred in communist Russia, China, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. It has never worked, and what will happen to the poor after all the wealth of the White rich has been taken, redistributed and wasted? The simple answer is just more poverty and inequality for the Black masses.
We do have to move away from exclusive capitalism, which sometimes maintains exclusive political empowerment. However, we should also move away from a vague inclusive capitalism promoted by liberals who at the same time underwrite and practice exclusive capitalism. We should move to a new capitalism that is responsible, humane and truly democratic, but without disturbing the economy of South Africa.
22.214.171.124. The ANC’s plans are reminiscent of Zimbabwe’s land grabbing
The collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy, for many years run successfully, is an excellent example of what could happen to South Africa. The similarities between the two countries are clear. There was a slow build-up of hostility towards Whites, culminating in the vilifying of Whites to distract the attention away from the failures of the government. It seems now as if the Cyril Ramaphosa-era is going to be a true Mugabe-culture of land-grab. Should South Africa end up in the same position, it would take generations to find a clear roadmap again.97,98 It is important to reflect in short on the political history of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe to understand the fears of those in South Africa who feel that the current conditions in the country are just too similar for comfort.97 One prominent point of reference is Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, dated 2008.97,98 In this context the reporting of journalist Ray Ndlovu is very informative. He writes that in March 2008 Robert Mugabe signed this act into law to give Black Zimbabweans a 51% stake in all foreign-owned companies in the country. This followed Mugabe’s earlier policy in 2000 to start the forceful takeover of White-owned commercial farms, mostly by way of violent farm seizures. However, the ownership of most of these White farms did not pass to the poor and landless Zimbabweans, but to the Mugabe elites. The 2008 law targeted foreign companies, such as mining houses, banks, insurance firms and retailers. In time, the 2008 law became more aggressive towards foreigners, especially Whites. It later reserved certain sectors for Zimbabweans. Mugabe, as quoted by Ndlovu, even arrogantly declared that97:8:
Forty-nine percent is a hell of a lot of equity; it is only the foolish ones who will say no. Wise ones will take it up.
South African firms like Zimplats and Stanbic were rattled by the persistent threats by the Mugabe government to cancel their operating licences. The direct outcome was that investment in Zimbabwe stopped. By the time of Mugabe’s fall in November 2017 the country could only attract about $300 million (R3.5 billion) in investments compared with Mozambique’s $3 billion in investments. Agricultural production has plummeted, erasing Zimbabwe’s status as the breadbasket of the Southern African Development Community, making it a net importer of agricultural products like grain on a broad base. Zimbabwe has also failed to uplift the majority of Blacks. Poverty and the suppression of political and human rights followed, leading to an outflow of thousands of Black Zimbabweans to South Africa and other African countries just to make a basic living.97,98 The new president now has to clean up the mess in Zimbabwe. His first move was to recall the 2008 act, opening Zimbabwe to investment. Twelve sectors are reserved for Zimbabwean citizens. Investors from outside the country can thus own 100% of their investment once more and is no longer required to have a Zimbabwean partner save for above prescribed exclusions. In terms of the amendments brought by the Finance Act of 2018, business ownership is also no longer organised along racial lines.99,100 Ndlovu posits97: 8:
The Zimbabwean rebirth will be a long and painful one. For many years to come, Zimbabweans will have to work much harder than their neighbours to gain the trust of investors.
One should remember that the new President Mnanagwa was close to Mugabe in his cabinet, making him guilty of the same atrocities as Mugabe. This is similar to Ramaphosa and Zuma. Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s vice-president, as was the case with Ramaphosa and Zuma. Thankfully, for South Africa, Ramaphosa does have political and personal integrity. His closeness to Zuma was not contaminated by corruption. Mnanagwa was Mugabe’s minister of state security and was directly involved in the massacre of an estimated 20 000 people during ethnic cleansing in Matabeleland from 1983 to 1987 by the Fifth Brigade, a Zimbabwean army unit trained by the North Koreans.99,100 President Mnanagwa’s new racial and economic policies have already resulted in a first deal in of $4.2-billion with the Cypriot investor Loucas Pouroulis March 2018 to develop a platinum mine and refinery. There are promises of more investments from China and previously estranged countries. However, it remains to be seen if the markets will ever truly trust Mnanagwa. The signs are not good. It reminds us of Ramaphosa’s past as a revolutionary within the ANC. The concern of political analysts and strategists is that there has thus far not been any political, economic and democratic improvement under Ramaphosa as president. Another correlation between Mnanagwa and Ramaphosa is that Mnanagwa only gained a 50.8% majority with 44.3% of votes, in line with Ramaphosa’s weak support within the ANC NEC.97 South Africa is already in need of a rebirth after the failure of the ANC regime since 1994. If the country goes down the path of land grabbing by changing the Constitution, a rebirth may be impossible. As with Zimbabwe’s violent land seizures, many White lives can be at risk. Not a single antagonist will ever forget Malema’s warning:
We will kill you, but not for now.
As said, inclusive capitalism cannot replace exclusive capitalism to solve South Africa’s poverty, inequality and unemployment. Exclusive capital, driving business development and the creation of work opportunities can indeed bring inclusive capital to the poor and unemployed in time, but only outside the failed business, economic and political principles of the ANC and their model.
3.2.2 Ramaphosa’s view that approximately 87% of South Africa’s land belongs to Whites
Ramaphosa is completely out of touch with his statement that more or less 87% of the country’s land belongs mostly to Whites.103 He deliberately ignores the fact that the land owned by municipalities and the government itself is substantial. Unsubstantiated claims about the true facts around land ownership make up a large part of the rhetoric on the expropriation of land without compensation by the ANC. The ANC, after 24 years of rule, still fails to understand the ramifications of its vision of land ownership and that the manipulation of facts since 1994 are not going to help them in the coming 2019 election.104 Regarding the anomaly of who owes what percentage of land to whom in South Africa, Haffajee writes105: 6:
After 24 years, neither the private sector nor the government has been able to give a substantive figure on who owns the land, suggesting that even the ownership of the 139 the ANC says are in its crosshairs is unclear.
But, if you put together the industry’s Agri SA audit of land and the state’s land audit last year, a picture of such complexity emerges that it’s clear it will take years before expropriation without compensation can take place because the ANC has committed itself to first passing a proper record of deeds before passing the constitutional amendment to enable more muscular land expropriation without compensation.
Neither the audit of Agri SA nor that of the state is usefull. Agri SA finds that agriculture land makes up 76.3% (about 93.3 million hectares in 2016) of the total land area. Of this, the Agricultural Business Chamber finds that 26.7% is Black-owned and 70% of the total agricultural land is White owned. From 1994 to 2016, 8.9 million hectares were bought by Blacks and the government (to the value of R90.3 billion) and Agri SA confirms an ongoing transfer of White land to Blacks.105 The state’s audit identifies 24% of farms and smallholdings as Black-owned compared to 72% that is White-owned. These numbers are complicated by the fact that vast land is owned by trusts, companies and community-based bodies. This category can form as much as 60% of all private landownership, making the state’s finding untrustworthy with respect to the precise ownerships of the 60% of all the private land. From other data available, it reflects the ownerships of land as follows: trusts 31%, companies 25%, community organizations 4%, cooperations 4% and individuals 39%.105
The state’s audit focused only on land that is registered at the deeds office, which records the private ownership of farms, agricultural holdings, stand-alone houses, and sectional title units. In the Limpopo and Eastern Cape provinces there is as much as 7.7 million hectares of unregistered state land. The race, gender and nationality of the landowners are not recorded in the deeds register.105There is indeed a racial parity in who owns houses. Forty-nine per cent of the land classed as erven are owned by Whites, and 46% by Blacks.105Ramaphosa is clearly mistaken when he claims that 83% of land is owned by mostly White individuals. It seems to be far less, as low as 60%. Secondly, is it very difficult to classify people as landowners or non-landowners. Thirdly, the difference between rural and urban land is not specified, nor land for farming versus land for houses (erven and small non-agricultural urban plots). If the ANC governments proceeds with land expropriation without compensation, it would first struggle to determine true ownership, making land redistribution to the poor and landless such an enormous task that it would take years.105 When it comes to land used exclusively for commercial farming by White farmers, the picture becomes even more confusing. It is important to mention that the land that municipalities and the government owns is substantial, while the farms owned by Whites, which provide food security and earn valuable foreign currency and offer employment, only account for about 10% of the country’s total land area. This means that Ramaphosa and Malema’s dreams to give land to masses of poor and landless Blacks and that they would all be able to make a decent living as commercial farmers unrealistic.104,105
3.3 The testimonies of South Africans at the country-wide parliamentary hearings on a change to Section 25 and land expropriation without compensation
It is insightful to reflect on some of the presentations by South Africans at the various parliamentary land expropriation hearings held country-wide. It gives us a look at the lack of understanding of the complexity of the Constitution’s function to uphold of rule of law. People are also confused of who are indigenous and who not. It is clear why Mkhondo106 warns that the parliamentary hearings to hear so-called “testimonies” cannot be used to give a “true opinion” on the land reform matter and that the chances are good that the whole exercise will fail. The process cannot provide statistically trustworthy information.106 Nonetheless, a look at these testimonies may provide some insight of how the general population thinks about the issue.
The Gauteng hearing on land exportation, for instance, shows significant naivety on the political history of land grabbing in South Africa. At the Gauteng hearing Solly Mkhize107 stated that the ANC government can not shy away from the redistribution and the transfer of land, firstly because of107: 6: “…all the wars that were fought for the land by the Blacks”, and secondly because of: “…the 1913 discriminative legislation which had unjustified forced Blacks out of their own land”. Mkhize reaches only one conclusion107: 6:
How can we give whites compensation for land that was stolen?
For many others like Mkhize107, the Gauteng hearing became an excellent platform for a racial onslaught, far removed from reason. In many instances, “Whiteness” was used as the measure of guilt. Critics of the hearings and the expropriation process see the hearings as a failed exercise since it involved politically influenced masses commenting on a process they do not understand. It reminds of the English proverb: A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. The Gauteng hearing descended into chaos after Phumla Boloshi107 , allegedly from the DA, warned107: 6:
We don’t need to change the Constitution. We need government action. Our young fellow Africans are lazy. What are they going to do with the land anyway? They cannot till the land.
She saw the ANC government since 1994 as a failure, specifically with regard to using the existing Section 25 of the Constitution to manage landownership. Filipe Macuacua107 testified at the Gauteng hearing that he had been fighting since 2004 with the different [ANC] government institutions, including more intense efforts in 2009 and 2014 with professional assistance, for a piece of land. His conclusion was that the present government is of no help, forcing him, as result of their failure to allocate land, to live in a squatter camp.107 At the Vryheid hearing in KwaZulu-Natal, some attendees claimed to be acting on behalf of God. Who of us can argue with God? Ntombela108 said108: 22:
The land is people’s birthright and this is what God would have wanted. If you read Genesis, God created heaven and Earth and said we must multiply, which means that no one can own the land alone. All the land belongs to the people.
Mr. Buthelezi108 claimed that God had intended for Blacks to own the land because they are the rightful indigenous owners of the land108: 22:
There is one thing I want to say, that God gave us the land to work it and benefit from it. Our land was taken from us without compensation.
Another claimant, Mthethwa108, after telling of his constant suffering at the hands of a White farmer since 1952, said108: 22:
This committee is asking about something for which they already know the answer. They know that the land is ours and should be returned.
Even King Zwelithini has claimed divine purpose. His daughter Nandi publically remarked109: 3:
We [Zwelithini-royals] did not bring ourselves here. God put us where we are.
His son, Phumuza Zulu, stated109: 3:
I want to tell you that big things are coming about this family. He [the king] said everyone who wronged him must come and apologise because God is moving. All people who are against this kingdom, I am telling you right now, this is a prophecy, you are all going to be in trouble because God is in control, he is taking everything, so you must come to the king and apologise.
A White farmer from Paulpietersburg also got onto the divine bandwagon at the KwaZulu-Natal hearings. Mr. Engelbrecht108, who is opposed to both changing Section 25 and maintaining the present landownership balance, declared108: 22:
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s servants, animals, or anything else. We must make sure that everybody has a piece of land and a title deed and is able to build a house they can leave for their children. We all want our kraals to be full of livestock, to plant maize and reap and be happy.
Engelbrecht’s108 emotional-religious argument mirrors that of Julius Malema. It is also interesting to note some of the rhetoric of Whites at the hearings. Much of it is as emotional and inapplicable as the arguments of the Blacks. A representative of the Melmoth Farmers Association in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal, Mr. Harris108, reflected at the hearing that the group was strongly opposed to the change the Constitution and to land redistribution without compensation, basically because they believe that land grabbing would destroy the lives of millions of South Africans. He said108: 22:
Apart from the injustices that it will cause to millions of loyal citizens of this country who have for generations worked the land and have built it up to become viable commercial farming enterprises, such as an amendment of the constitution will also destroy one of the most important corner-stones upon which our democracy is built.
However, he fails to mention which millions of citizens they support and on whose behalf they act.108 In this context is it important to note that there are more and less 35 000 commercial farmers, who are mostly Afrikaners/Whites, and the total Afrikaner population is only 2.7 million in number. To speak confidently on behalf of 2.7 million Afrikaners, of which fewer than 2% are commercial farmers and own farmland, is misleading.42 Julius Malema19 also fires at the argument of Mr. Harris19:3:
Many Africans have asked their white fellow residents a simple question: ‘When your white ancestors disposed black people of their lands, did they offer consolation? Was there a dialogue and democratic chance to hear everyone’s views?
A remark during the hearings at the Oudshoorn by a representative of the Khoi people, Julia le Roux111, the morning after Ramaphosa’s sudden and surprising announcement that the ANC supports the motion to change the Constitution, brings a new dimension to debate. She pointed out that Ramaphosa’s announcement was in reality an insult to the South African people and that it is unacceptable to make such a “government decision” before the hearings had been completed. She asked what they were all doing at the hearing at Oudtshoorn, seeing that the ANC government had already made a final decision on the matter.111 Another Khoi-San representative, named Marius111, addressed the commission as follows111: 4-5:
The land for which we are all washing out their mouths here belongs to no other than the Khoi-San. We are not going to deal with the parliament [Own translation].
Jacob Theron111, a Khoi-Khoi headman in Oudsthoorn, took the argument in favour of their right to South African soil back to Jan van Riebeeck and argues that the cut-off date for land redistribution must be changed from 1913 to 1652. He could not offer sound reasons, as reflected by the following opinion111: 4-5:
Jan van Riebeeck arrived on three ships, the Reijger, the Goede Hoop and the Drommedaris. How much land was on those ships? [Own translation].
Amil Umraw, a journalist who attended the various hearings, is of the opinion that it was doomed to failure from day one. He starts by reflecting on the unsuccessful efforts of a 91-year-old man, Isaac Mogale112 of Rustenburg, to reclaim his ownership of 345 ha of farmland that was dispossessed during Apartheid. Umraw writes112: 18:
But like many others who attended parliament’s hearings on the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution, Mogale’s views were drowned out by politically affiliated hordes who crammed the hearings venues across the country.
In every province, the hearings were marked by people in red, yellow or blue regalia streaming out of buses and lining up to address the committee. It seemed to be a strategy based on quantity over quality: the more heads in attendance, the better the chance of the party’s stance being expressed. And it was perfectly executed, especially by the EFF.
In an almost choral rendition of party policy, supporters mimicked their leaders’ rhetoric and, in some cases, like in Mahikeng, berated any speaker with an opposing view.
Umraw112 asks whether Cyril Ramaphosa’s comment that it is112: 18: “…patently clear that our people want the Constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings”, has been based on the views of the majority of South Africans or on those of the interest groups whose voices were the loudest at the hearings? Umraw112 takes his question further112: 18: “And how would he [Ramaphosa] unequivocally know what ‘our people want’ when parliament is yet to complete its consultative process?”
One positive outcome of the hearings is that it offered the different groups an opportunity to hear the views of the others. The public hearings meant that the ball had at least started roll in some way to somewhere.42,49,108,112
4.1 The process of the public hearings on the change to Section 25
The parliamentary committee responsible for the public hearings to hear the public’s inputs on changes to Section 25(2)(b) and on land redistribution without compensation, completed its sessions in August 2018. After this the committee consulted further with various stakeholders, including academics, non-governmental organizations and private companies dealing with land and buildings. They used these evidence to present a final report for consideration by parliament.33,74,107,113
In retrospect it clear the task of the committee was just too comprehensive: to obtain valid and reliable evidence to guide the parliament on the decision to change Section 25 to allow land expropriation without compensation. The opinions and views of the public were often incoherent and unspecific. The hearings had also become contaminated by testimonies of unrelated past political and socioeconomic wrongdoings, historical and political myths that became truths in the minds of a great portion of the population, a lack of an understanding of the effect of contaminated economics on a stable food chain, a lack of knowledge on international and national laws on land grabbing, and a lack of an understanding about who counts as indigenous South African people.
The data were often conflicting and of no value. The masses of data collected were reworked by a private company, Isilumko Staffing, to offer some opinion to the parliament on the people’s needs, opinions, and demands on land expropriation with or without compensation. Reworking qualitative data to present it as quantitative data is a complex process that requires expertise in statistics, research design and the social sciences around politics. Outsourcing this analysis is highly questionable.
The final report divided the qualitative information into various categories: presentations on agricultural land, urban land, etc., and listing the arguments for or against change to Section 25. The whole process of analysing and classifying the data was subjective. It could be contaminated by bias and manipulation. The categorizing of the final data was executed according to the research company’s own guidelines. There were too many uncontrollable determinants that could have contaminated the whole process of the analysis. Various researches expressed doubt as to the applicability and correctness of the process.114-117
Political research is complicated and needs a clear-cut research design before the start of the research to find clear answers in response to clear questions to them. Starbird’s117 doubts are clear when he says117: 66:
The most fundamental idea of democracy is that the government responds to the will of the people. Usually, the will of the people is ascertained through voting. An election takes the individual opinions of each voter and assembles those many opinions into one societal decision, the election winner – the will of the people.
Starbird117 warns that there is an unfortunate and counter-intuitive reality to the election process117: 66:
An election’s outcome may have less to do with the voters’ preferences about candidates [political matters] than with the voting [research] method employed. A method by which the voters’ preferences are combined to determine the winner [political matter] is a means of making a statistical summary of data. We will see that such summaries are fraught with peril.
The final decision of the voters [presenters] on a change to Section 25 offered in parliament is intrinsically problematic. The presenters made up 1% of the population. The research cannot serve as a valid and trustworthy guideline for parliament. The whole exercise was nothing other than political window-dressing.23,117,118
The best way to understand this is with Starbird’s117 lecture titled “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”. He said117: 92:
In this lecture, we will learn some effective ways to lie with statistics. Lying with statistics means one of several things. We might, of course, simply present false data. But more interesting methods involve taking perfectly valid data and distorting their meaning by using misleading presentations or by drawing improper inferences.
The vote on the change to Section 25 in parliament will be done in terms of party membership. This in reality means the outcome will depend on party policy.23,117,118
The best way to settle the matter would be three questions on a ballot. These three questions should be: 1) Are you in favour of keeping Section 25 as it is and the continuation of the land redistribution policy in place since 1994? or 2) Are you in favour of a change to Section 25 for the implementation of a land redistribution policy with compensation? or 3) Are you in favour of a change to Section 25 for the implementation of a land redistribution policy without any compensation?
The whole process could also be completed at much less cost with a referendum. It is further alleged that the ANC’s top six, after it became clear that the majority of the presenters at the parliamentary hearings were against amending the Constitution (and thus land expropriation without compensation), decided to ignore the outcome of the hearings.23,106
An overview of the hearings shows that the general public holds far less extreme views than the ANC and the EFF. The report of Isilumko Staffing shows that there were 630 609 written submissions, of which 176 780 were duplicates, with 3 602 empty and a further 592 non-applicable. The result was 449 522 presentations, reflecting a 34.2% in favour of the change and 64.7% against it. The parliamentary committee acknowledged that it would be impossible for them to consider every one of the presentations in detail.2,23 The drafted amendment must first be accepted by National Assembly, which can happen at the earliest in March 2019. After that the concept amendment must also be considered by the National Council for Provinces. The National Council of Provinces is forced by law to allow six weeks for consideration for its members to take part in a public discussion. This means that the Constitution can be amended by middle May 2019 at the earliest. 2,23
If the ANC’s majority decreases after the 2019 election, their opportunities to amend the Constitution also decrease. The ANC will need the help of the EFF and other smaller parties to get enough votes. The election has to be before August, but Ramaphosa has hinted that it may be earlier.23,119
Referendums are seldom used in South Africa. Mkhondo106:18 warns that they are not fool proof. After FW de Klerk used a referendum to ask permission to continue negotiations with the ANC, some felt that he interpreted the results as giving him permission to hand the power to the majority, while they only meant to give him permission to negotiate.42,106 However, referendums could be a good option in a situation like this. Mkhondo106: 18 states that such a referendum will counter citizens’ cynicism, inter-party fighting and political manipulation and end the mandate of political leaders who speak falsely on behalve of the individual. It is time to acknowledge the demands of masses in South Africa.
In Switzerland more than 900 such plebiscites have been held since the 17th century, while more recently Italy and New Zealand used referendums to force radical changes to voting systems and drastic changes to of some of their political institutions.106 Mkhondo106: 18 provides a clear guideline for politicians to follow when using referendums to solve political matters. Firstly, the referendum questions must be neutral, clear and concise, preferably requiring a simple yes/no answer to avoid invalidity and incredibility. Referendums should also supplement rather than supplant political decision-making. It is undoubtedly time to look critically at the legal processes, the foundation and subjects on which battles are being fought106. Mkhondo106 states a clear constitutional dilemma that has to be addressed when he posits106: 18:
For nearly 25 years, our constitution has enshrined our values and given legal expression to our vision as a country and has been a fundamental source of guidance for elected officials. But our constitution is showing signs of wear and tear: Our democracy is becoming irrelevant.
Is the Constitution still valid for our circumstances? Mkhondo106: 18 writes precisely and clearly about our lack of sophistication with respect to the complexity of public policies on the Constitution and on human and property rights. He sees five prominent shortcomings that result from an autocratic-democratic constitution that suited Nelson Mandela at the time. It gave him the ability to place political allies in critical positions. South Africa has not really had a true democratic Constitution since 1994. Saying that Jacob Zuma misused the Constitution is false: South Africans created the faulty Constitution themselves, giving Zuma immense presidential power.106 Mkhondo106 pens down five very simply, straightforward yes-no questions for the voter on the Constitution106: 18:
- Do you prefer the president of the country to be elected to office directly by voters?
- Do you prefer that the president of the country be elected by their political party?
- Should mayors and premiers be elected directly by voters?
- Should all MPs, or a proportion of them, be elected through the mechanism of a party list?
- Should South Africa continue to have nine provinces, or fewer?
Mkhondo106 takes the issue of land much deeper that the parliamentary committee’s superficial hearings. The current process is simple patchwork to a sick constitution, and its other shortcomings will resurface in the future on various constitutional matters and can become untreatable. Mkhondo106 writes in this regard106: 18:
We need a referendum, for example, on whether it is time to amend the constitution, and the electoral system it outlines. Is our proportional representation system still relevant? A referendum would test whether our constitution still embodied the bedrock values of our democracy, including effective participation, transparency, responsiveness, inclusiveness and accountability.
Cyril Ramaphosa120 claims that the land debate almost ended in a referendum in 1993, but instead the property clause was crafted to acknowledge the rights of property owners as well as those without land. Embedded in this clause …was the ability to speed up land reform, but this had not been used to good effect.
However, there was never any serious intent in 1993 to have a referendum on land expropriation without compensation, primarily because it would have ended in war at that time.42,108,120-122
4.2. Questions around the ANC attack on the 1994 Constitution and Section 25 to allow expropriation
4.2.1. Are Section 25 and the Constitution unchangeable?
Central to future dramatic land reform stands the South African Constitution and Section 25(2)(b) of its Bill of Rights. Anti-reformers argue that Section 25 already provides a clear roadmap for further land reform. Since 1994 a total of 76 000 land claims have been filed, 95% dealt with unsuccessfully. More than 1.8 million individuals have received compensation, either monetary or in the form of land.123 They also argue that Section 25 does give the state the ability to expropriate property in the public interest. The government has all it needs according to this line of argumentation. 124 Opperheimer explains Section 25(2)(b) when he postulates124:18:
It empowers the state to expropriate property in the public interest, which includes land reform. A classic case would be the construction of the Gautrain project, which needed to run through privately owned land, or the acquisition of land to build RDP homes. The constitution recognizes that in such cases private owners deserve compensation, which is worked out according to relevant circumstances.
In August 2018 the government indeed served papers of expropriation on four farm owners in Limpopo without court intervention, seemingly after the transfer of the ownership of the farms stalled because the state and the owners could not reach an understanding on the selling price and the owners contest the land claim in court. These expropriations were founded on Art 42(e) of the Act on the Restoration of Land Rights, which refers to recourse in the case of a deadlock.
AfriForum and Institute of Racial Relations (IRR) as made the claim that there is a list of 139 farms that the government intends to expropriate with compensation. Rendani Sadiki125, the acting director-general in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, categorically denies the existence of such a list. Sadiki125 says it is a list of 139 farms (sometimes in media reported to be 194 farms) identified by the ANC NEC at their lekgotla as cases where no consensus could be reached on the selling prices that have to be put on the register for arbitration by the court. They are test cases for the expropriation of farms in terms of the valuation-general’s register of disputed farms (selling prices versus the land court’s pricing) to finalize the cases on the register.125,126 They are therefore not classified as expropriation without compensation, although the owners may not receive market value. The officials refuse for some sinister reasons to name these 139 properties, although are already on the register for disputed land. Rendani Sadiki125 and Maite Nkoane-Mashabane125 have acknowledged that this secrecy is a specific step by the government to prevent farmers from taking legal steps to defend their property.
The opinion of legal experts is that in certain extraordinary cases the government can expropriate land without compensation in terms of Art 42(e), but courts of law have thus far not given a decisive answer on the matter. Aggrieved land owners can thus still challenge the unacceptable compensations offered for their farms in the court in terms of the legality of the expropriation. Linda Page, spokesperson of the Department of Land Reform, emphasises that the minister can take steps to buy, to obtain or to expropriate with compensation (not necessarily at market prices) farms for land reform in terms of Art 42(e) and that there have been 23 such cases since 2007.
An attorney, Bertus van der Merwe, an expert on land expropriation, also indicates that there has thus far not been a single successful case of direct land expropriation by the government without some form of compensation. Maite Nkoane-Mashabane seemingly wants to create a legal precedent that favours the state in case of future cases of land expropriation without compensation, thereby overcoming the need to change Section 25(2)(b). Evidence suggests that the state in most instances pay semi-full /semi-half compensation (± 60% of market price), meaning that it would be difficult to force a pay-out above 60% in court.48,125,127 This testing of how compensation must be calculated indicates the failure of the ANC regime, because they did not use the courts as a final decision-maker and guide on the compensation process from the start. They instead followed a political process. If the court of law was used it would have resulted in a clear guideline on the correct calculation of compensation, preventing the current conflicting principles of willing seller-willing buyer.
In defence of their initial legal passivity, now replaced by an active process in court to force down expropriation in terms of the state’s pricing guideline, the ANC government argues that the market prices in time caused the buying process to slowed down because the prices were driven up unrealistically and artificially.34,48,125,129,130 Umraw128:4 reports that the expropriation of the 139 listed farms is expected to be carried out before the end of December 2018. An ANC NEC member, Ronald Lamola, revealed the truth that the ANC at its lekgotla in December 2017 adopted a plan to speed up land expropriation, including the alleged 139 farms selected for expropriation, because the ANC wanted to test the principles of the Constitution. Lamola reports128:4:
We said we will take a multipronged approach to land. We don’t know when the process for amendment will be finalized.
And it’s not a given that when we put the amendment to parliament, we will get a two thirds majority vote. We will continue to expropriate land this way, and the parliamentary process for a constitutional amendment for expropriation without compensation will run parallel.
Kodwa125:2 pointed out that even if this test run with the 139 farms is successful, the ANC would still seek an amendment of the Constitution to help them avoid future legal conflict in the process of land expropriation without compensation. Weighted compensation is only a short-term solution. Full-scale land grabbing is still the goal.125 Umraw128:4 reports that according to insider information on the ANC legotka, ANC members of the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) conceded that as the Constitution presently stands, “the state was already able to expropriate land without compensation if it wished”, but did not do so because of certain blocks in the country’s political set-up. The political power of the ANC has now reached the point where there is more radical thinking on the economic and social empowerment of the Black population. In this context, the members of the CRLR felt that the matter must be addressed by means of direct land grabbing. Affected landowners could be referred to the courts, from there the ANC’s eagerness to take test cases to court.128
Party [ANC] insiders who attended the two-day lekgotla of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) this week, the ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences, gave details of the legislative plans and the expropriation “guinea pig” scheme.
In addition to pushing for an amendment to section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation, the ANC’s plans include: Drafting a land records bill aimed at documented all landowners, both formal and informal, and ensuring security of tenure; Drafting a redistribution bill that would provide a framework for the deciding who gets priority access to land once the reform programme rolls out; and Amending the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act to recognize those who have lived on the property for three years or more as the de facto owners who cannot be dispossessed without consent.
Party members at the lekgotla are said to have wanted the process of passing and implementing the Expropriation Bill expedited. Once Section 25 of the constitution has been amended, the bill can be changed to allow for expropriation without compensation, effectively doing away with the willing buyer–willing seller principle.
Hunter131:4 says that the ministry of rural development had received specific instructions from its minister to pursue the matter right up to the Constitutional Court as test cases. The intention is not to relent if the White farmers take the department to court to object to the valuer-general’s valuation, but to obtain a pronunciation and guideline from the Constitutional Court on what Section 25 of the Constitution really means. The ANC wants the farmers to go to court. Although the head of the ministry of rural development, Mashile Mokono131, said that131:4: “…the department had set aside funds for the farms’ paying and if there were no disagreement, the department would have gone ahead and bought them”, he did a sudden turn-about on pay-outs when he said131:4:
The department believes the current provisions of the constitution may allow for farms to be expropriated with the value of the farm set at zero rands.
When land is evaluated, we take different things into consideration. If we consider the fact that maybe that land was given to the farmer by the apartheid government, then that farmer got soft loans, and when there was drought, he further got more…so the valuation might be that the farmer doesn’t get anything. Zero.
Mokono131:4 also posits that the government does not expect the present parliamentary process to amend the constitution to be concluded by the end of this administration, making a Constitutional Court order on the matter of crucial importance to the ANC. Hunter131:4 reports further that a member of the ANC’s executive said that it’s likely that once the Constitutional Court proclaims on any of the 139 cases, Section 25 may not need to be overhauled, because the Constitution is then functioning correctly in terms of the ANC’s concept of justice. This is in line with what Ramaphosa said to the Zulu King in July 2018, namely that the land targeted for expropriation is limited to the land of mostly White South Africans.68 On the 21st September 2018, Ramaphosa132:1 in an interview with Business Times elaborated further on his previous utterances. Derby132 reports132:1:
He and his party have backed changes to the constitution in order to ensure that land expropriation without compensation takes place to speed up transformation with regard to landownership.
Derby further reflects132:1:
Ramaphosa said the state would target land from state-owned enterprises and private sector businesses that have large tracts of unused land — such as forestry giants Sappi and Mondi.
The packaging and paper manufacturer Mondi Group and the pulp and paper company Sappi already accepted the unavoidable realities of landownership and publicly indicated they are not interested in owning land in future, but instead wants permission to use state or communal land to produce wood-products. Although the research of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agricultural Studies (PLAAS) shows that as much as 40% of the large plantations are subject to land claims. They look at these claims in terms of their business models. Their priority is future access to wood resources instead of land ownership, making the transfer of land to communities less complicated and demanding.132,133 Above statements by various ANC elites on land reform and the contradictions, the ANC’s biggest problem is that it does not have a lucid policy on land134:4. They have only a series of decisions taken at various meetings sold as empowerment to the radical elements in the voter corps.
The land question could turn out to be SA’s Brexit if the ANC continues to chase votes without a coherent policy position and game plan.
Tabane135 postulates as follows135:4:
The elevation of the land question to a central election issue has made the ANC act in a desperate fashion, exposing policy schizophrenia,
This must be one of the most disorganized policy approaches to befall the ruling party since 1994.
Professor Ben Cousins136:1 of the Department of Science and the Technology and National Research Foundation and a chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of Western Cape, warns about the lack of a policy on land. He agrees that land redistribution is a core issue that must be addressed136:1:
We’ve got to change the racial ownership of land, but as a long-term project.
126.96.36.199. Does the ANC have a clear redistribution plan?
Cousins136, Haffajee138 and Derby137 emphasizes that a properly described official redistribution programme is crucial. The ANC simply lacks expertise.136-138 Cousins136 reflects as follows136:1:
We’ve got a massive problem with the restitution programme, which is now massively dysfunctional. We’ve got to fix those problems and resolve the restitution claims, possibly through lots of cash pay-outs. We’ve got to resolve the issue of the insecure land rights of people in informal settlements, in backyards shacks, in cities, communal areas and on farms. We need that tenure-reform component.
A new Land Records Act, which records, registers and secures people’s land rights, whether these are private title deeds or whether they are given tenure rights – a proper way of securing those rights against arbitrary eviction – is a third key element of a proper land reform programme.
The “cash payouts” Cousins136 refers to has become a problem. It seems to have dried up, forcing the ANC to take desperate measures. Another troubling idea is the prominent remark by Ronald Lamola128 that the ANC considered at the December 2017 lekgotla to introduce a land tax or a kind of levy on land for so-called absent landowners as a way to force the full use of land or to open up such land to the poor and landless. To add to the confusion, Enoch Godongwana125, chair of the ANC’s sub-committee of economic transformation, said the ANC had no intention to expropriate productive land without compensation distanced the ANC from the EFF125:2:
We strive to different kinds of landownership, including private land, state-land, communal land, etc.
What he omits is what percentage of land ownership the ANC would allow. If the models of Zimbabwe, Zambia or Mozambique are anything to go by, the percentage of White ownership will be very low, mostly limited to tenure by means of long lease.125 When considering the current situation where the ANC is in a hurry to push through land expropriation without compensation and Ramaphosa is attempting to clinch his position as president of the ANC of the country, chances are good that the ANC will strike a deal with the EFF and other radical parties in parliament before the 2019 election to withdraw the Expropriation Bill and to amend it to make explicit those categories of land (as a first step) likely to be expropriated without compensation and the conditions in which this may happen.138 Haffajee138:2 describes these properties as follows: “…possible abandoned buildings, unused land, unproductive commercial property held for speculative purposes, underutilized state property, and land farmed by labour tenants with an absentee titleholder”.
The earmarked properties clearly also include those farms with disputed prices and the so-called “soft Apartheid farms” (described by Mashile Mokono131:4 as farms obtain by nationalist Afrikaners because Apartheid favoured them).138 Derby137 is concerned about the consequences of land expropriation without compensation. He asks137: 2: “Just how will the state handle indebted land, even if a farmer is not compensated? Would there be compensation to the banks, and if not, just where it does it leave a bank like Absa, one of the largest lenders to the agricultural sector?”
This is just one risk of an untidy resolution to what is a structural fault line in the South African economy – access to land. If banks are susceptible and face a real prospect of some of their loans being wiped off their books, a crisis will follow. How will they be able to provide loans to new Black farmers?
This is admittedly alarmist, as there is much uncertainty about exactly what and how the changes to the Constitution will unfold. What will it mean for private property and house prices? There are just so many different objectives to the land debate. Apart from historical redress, there’s the promotion of land ownership of rural land. This calls into question the role of our traditional leaders such as the Zulu king. In these areas, just how we deal with the question of land tenure for women will be a minefield to navigate.
Plaintiffs have two prominent misconceptions about the ANC and its land reform. In contrast with the Westernized, capitalistic and democratic thinking of landowners, the ANC leaders have a revolutionary mindset based on the theory of chaos. Secondly, is the belief of some plaintiffs that the statutory change to the Constitution will stop with the change to Section 25. However, Section 25 seems to be only the first step of a low-level change to the Constitution to fit the ANC’s present needs, paving the way for more comprehensive and complicated changes to follow.42 To understand the ability of the ANC leadership to manipulate the facts is reflected in the ease with which they side-stepped the matter after President Donald Trump tweeted that he has instructed his minister of Foreign Affairs, Mike Pompeo, to investigated the ANC’s land grabbing and the murder of White farmers. After the ANC-leadership took Pompeo’s chargé ď affaires at the American Embassy in Pretoria under their hand about the “arrogant” Trump-tweet, Pompeo only wants from the ANC-regime “to explain its land reform policy better”. The report of journalist Llewellyn Prince139 on how easily Pomeo’s enquiry with the South African minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, was laid to rest, is striking139:2:
South Africa must explain its land transforming policy better.
This was in New York the message of Mike Pompeo, the American minister of Foreign Affairs to Lindiwe Sisulu, the minister International Relations and Cooperation.
Sisulu yesterday, on her monthly information session, said to journalists Pompeo had said to her he and the American government understands what South Africa likes to reach, but that there are people which do not understand it. “After we called in the American Embassy’s chargé ď affaires after the tweet (of pres. Donald Trump), the American department issued a balanced elucidation”.
She [Sisulu] said the government will use every opportunity to explain.
The chances are good that the ANC will introduce comprehensive changes to the Constitution to implement RET from 2019 if the ANC stays in power after the 2019 election. They indeed do have a clear and guiding redistribution plan in place.
188.8.131.52. The legal foundation of the process of land expropriation with or without compensation
For a change to the Constitution, a two-thirds majority is needed in parliament and an approval from six of the nine provinces, while the ordinary Bill on Expropriation that is serving before parliament at the moment only needs an approval vote of 50% by the parliament.125,138,140 Two sections of the Constitution will have to be amended — 25 and 31. Section 25 is applicable to the property clause that allows for expropriation, and 31 is the limitations clause that outlines when rights, to, for example, property, can be limited.125,138,139 The ANC at moment has 62% of the seats and the EFF 6% of the seats of parliament, meaning an alliance can give 68%.125,138,140
Advocate Paul Hoffman of Accountability Now postulates that although a two-thirds parliamentarian majority is needed to Section 25 (Article 25) of the Constitution, it ultimately depends on a 75% parliamentarian majority vote as guided by Article 74(1) of the Constitution.125,138,140 To change the Constitution the amendment must be approved and accepted by the National Assembly, after which the concept amendment must also be considered and accepted by the National Council for Provinces.23 Laws aimed at streamlining the expropriation process without constitutional changes are the Employment Equity Act, the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act and Codes, the Skills Development Act, the Levies Act and the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act. These legislations are supported by for instance the National Development Plan and the Black Industrialist Programme. Land expropriation in terms of democratic principles and African empowerment, is clearly described by Section 25(2)(b) of the Constitution, while the redistribution of agricultural land is further partially covered in the Agri BEE codes. This begs the question of why the sudden intended changes to the Constitution for land redistribution are needed?82
It is becoming more and more clear that the ANC is also setting their sights on various other traditional financial, legal and statutory institutions. The intention is undoubtedly to increase the ANC’s power over these traditional financial, legal and statutory institutions. Not even the South African courts will necessarily escape trespassing and disempowerment in the near future.
One direct outcome of the expropriation initiative is the abuse of the various legal vehicles to manipulate the prices of land. Plaintiffs criticise the calculation of the value of land when sold in terms of Art 42(e) of the Act on Property Valuation. They argue that the valuation-general uses an illegal formula to do the calculation for compensation, which should be based on six criteria, namely the 1) present market value of the property, 2) improvements, 3) present use and income-generation component, 4) the way the property was acquired, 5) the amount of financial state support the owner received over the years, and 6) the primary aim of the expropriation, like land-transformation, etc. The plaintiffs indicate that the open market value and the valuation of the valuation-general often differ as much as 50% and more, making the forced sale of the property a loss to the affected owner. Ms. Annelize Crosby48 of AgriSA puts it at more or less 60%, while Dr. Theo de Jager110, chair of the World Agricultural Organisation, puts it on an average of 40%. The valuation-general sometimes contracts private valuation groups to estimate the value of farms to ratify this low evaluation as the final expropriation offer.
The plaintiffs see this whole process with all its cancerous roots as nothing less than land expropriation without compensation.48,110,127,128-130 De Jager110: 4-5 says in this regard that the fact that the Land Claim Commission has been offering only 60% of the market value since September 2007 means that some farmers could not pay their outstanding bonds to banks when expropriation took place. This is nothing other than land expropriation without compensation for the White farmer.110 The banks in most cases get back the full amount of their bonds, which is seldom above 60% of the market value of farms. This assures that the banking sector’s involvement and their lending to farmers is not affected negatively in anyway. It means that farmers carry the financial losses alone as individual (White) citizens, while the shareholders/investors in banks are not affected. Bankruptcy is unavoidable for the White farmers who land in this situation. De Jager110: 4-5 reports that when the first pay-out of only 60% occurred, the banks lowered land bonds and informed farmers with bonds that they would still be responsible for shortfalls when land is expropriated by the government at 60% of the market value.
Another way in which the ANC is trying to limit White land ownership is with the concept legislation on the regulation of landownership issued in March 2017. It will probably be put to Parliament for approval in March 2021. This legislation suggests that land ownership be limited to 12 000 hectares, but that the ceiling of 12 000 hectares must not be absolute. The final size will depend on various factors, such as the location of the farm (for instance semi-dessert which needs large areas to make a living versus wetter areas where intensive farming is practiced on a small area), the quality of the land, the availability of water, distance from markets, capital requirements for farming and the number of the people already living and working on the farm. Gwede Mantashe (previously the secretary-general of the ANC and now minister of mineral resources) tried on 15 August 2018 to side-step the legal process with a further demand that the change to Section 25 should include limiting White land ownership to 12 000 hectares. However, in reality only 0.22% of farms are affected. The idea is that the land above the limit must be confiscated without compensation. This hostile behaviour on the one hand shows the lack of knowledge on the part of the ANC and on the other the growing hostility towards White landowners31,34.48,141-143.
This legislation will give the government the power to limit the right to own 12 000 hectares even further in some instances, depending on climate and the quality of the soil, etc.34 Another limitation on land ownership was suggested by Zuma in 2015, namely foreign landownership.34 Official statements on land expropriation is ever more conflicting, inciting the poor and landless to grab land. They have been waiting in the background, eagerly anticipating their promised free land. Munusamy144 expresses the popular expectations well144:22:
Following the ANC’s decision to amend the constitution to allow for land expropriation, there are all manner of expectations: Some people think title deeds for land will be handed out like free chilli sauce with a takeaway meal…
Since the Whites have been labelled the transgressors of the past, the question is if Whites will be allowed any land ownership whatsoever.142 The current fight against land grabbing will not turn around the ANC in the long run, only the voters can bring change. Arguments like that of Opperheimer124 ultimately only offer emotional support. Opperheimer writes124:18:
Almost all victims of land dispossession have been compensated. Home ownership matches racial demographics. Barring a few opportunistic politicians, almost no one view land reform as a burning issue. The transfer of functioning farms to ill-equipped beneficiaries has been a spectacular failure. Expropriate without compensation has been tried in communist regimes, where it has harvested riches for a few and devastation for everyone else.
We have an internationally lauded constitution premised on freedom, dignity, and equality. We have never altered our Bill of Rights and the evidence shows that there is no reason to do so now.
You can’t remove property rights and have a flourishing economy. Foreign investors won’t risk having their land confiscated when they can pick any number of other nations that will protect their investments.
4.3. The future of White farmers in South Africa
However much Whites are protesting, land reform is a reality. Those who do not fight it, but react with wisdom and calmness are often regarded as traitors when they consult with the authorities..31,97,98,101,102,112,125 This category of land owners sees the land issue as a valid concern that should have been addressed already, while many farmers still yearn for their apartheid rights.31,97,98,101,102,112,125,145 Those farmers who have adjusted are aggrieved by the rigid thinking of White farmers in general. They see the current efforts of the leaders of many of the pro-farmer groups like AfriForum, Solidarity and the FFP Plus as opportunistic and more focused on conflict than constructive discourse that could improve the relationship between the White farmers and ANC radicals. Van Rensburg145: 10 focuses our attention on this conflict with a comparison between the 1994 Constitution and the useless agreement the British Premier Neville Chamberlain made with Adolf Hitler in an effort to avoid the Second World War. He writes145:10:
After his return from Munich he cast around a note with the message: “I believe this is peace in our time”. Within a year Europe was plunged into war.
The 1994 Constitution has many short-comings. It is not absolute and will not protect White rights forever.110,145 Theo de Jager110: 4-5, chair of the World Agricultural Association, warns that Whites will not escape dramatic changes. They are naïve to think the Constitution will guard them. The ANC is losing power, and as in Zimbabwe where the Mugabe regime latched onto the rhetoric of punishing Whites for the past when they started losing power, the ANC wants to disempower Whites to regain power. De Jager110 shows that Section 25 of the Constitution does not guarantee market-related compensation for expropriation at all. What is more, the Land Claims Commission also has the power to decide on the specific value of farms under expropriation as is evident from the many pending disputes between farmers and the government. Only 10% of farms have been transferred up to 2018. De Jager110 makes it clear that the conflict with respect to land is not only the fault of the ANC government. He writes110: 4-5:
Our farmers have known for more than two decades that landownership and land transformation can become political dynamite. We saw what happened in Zimbabwe, but learned very little from it. The ANC asked in 2008 for suggestions for a land reform plan and we did not suggest one. Even the partnership model of the National Development Plan was shot down aggressively until the expropriation-without-compensation-scenario brought the established agricultural organisations to other insights.
To reject every new land reform plan as unconstitutional, ANC-friendly or as interference in the free market (as if it was not interference in the free market that plunged us in the present landownership dilemma), creates the impression that we speak left but is running right. History is going to judge us harshly for our inability to devise a workable plan [Own translation].
De Jager110 is clear and robust on the only choice available110: 4-5:
It is this or losing everything. It is not business as usual. We can certainly not sit down and believe that the problem will disappear [Own translation].
The White farmers should urgently change their attitude of obstruction, conflict and hostility and start to cooperate with ANC regime. They stand to be the only losers.110,146 The research of Pieter Steyn146, a South Africa journalist who recently toured Zimbabwe to do comprehensive interviews with Black and White farmers, officials and politicians, takes De Jager’s110 urgent warning of “adapt or die” even further. He reflects on the absolute right to land ownership and compares it with the situation of the Zimbabwean farmers. Steyn writes146: 12:
You do not need to own land to farm successfully and profitably. This fact is seldom acknowledged in the angry talks on land which are heard today in South Africa, this sentiment is seldom raised [Own translation].
For Steyn146 it is clear that Zimbabwean Black and White commercial farmers have started to think differently about land ownership and farming as a lifestyle and as a source of income. In Zimbabwe, as in Zambia and Mozambique, land is now more often owned by the state and rented out in terms of tenures of long lease (99 years) to farmers. A White Zimbabwean farmer, Ken Drummond146: 12, reflects that South Africans — from the farmers to the government — must look carefully at the events in countries like Kenya and Zambia. They had bloody revolutions about land, while in Zimbabwe White farmers lost their lives. He regards hanging on to land as foolish, and many of the White farmers in Zimbabwe who selfishly and rigidly clung to their land in the Mugabe period, lost it in the end.146 Basil Nyabadza146: 12, chair of the Agricultural and Rural Development Council of Zimbabwe and a high profile member of Zanu-PF, confirms that the only solution in Zimbabwe for all the parties involved was to transfer land ownership to the state. White farmers re-entered the agricultural sector by renting land for 99 years. For him is it important that South Africans look at all the unnecessary mistakes made in Zimbabwe since the 1960s. He emphasizes that it resulted in food shortages, murder and plundering, racism, and the South African situation has the potential to turn out the same. Drummond’s146: 12 advice to South African White farmers, in line with what De Jager110: 4-5 is advising, is to begin constructive talks with the ANC regime and to work towards something creative, even if it means selling farms under expropriation at lower than the market prices. One possibility is expecting of all persons who want to farm to be licensed as a farmer.146 The direct advice of Scott Masala146, a businessman and cattle farmer of Bulawayo, to White South African farmers is that they should take a look at the real amount of land they need to be productive and profitable146: 12:
If you own 30 000 hectares but uses only 1 000 hectares or only need 1 000 hectares to be productive, give away the rest [Own translation].
Drummond146: 12 agrees whole-heartedly and says that if a constructive thinking process was followed from day one in Zimbabwe, the end result would have been different.146 Both Masala146 and Drummond146 see the use of the courts as needless and ineffective in the end. It only delays the process. Masala146 and Drummond146 point out that this route has never worked and will not work here.
It is important for the business and farming sectors to get involved in the land transformation issue and that they must not allow themselves to be steered by politics. These sectors are currently passive, and this has led to the process being taken over by politicians.146,147 The various self-appointed bodies should also be replaced by a single body that represents all farmers at all levels, Black and White. For instance, the threats of Agri SA to use its influence with Business South Africa (BUSA) and the International Business Chamber and its interaction with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other entities that lend money to the South African government, to fight expropriation, can have more disadvantages than benefits.31
The Afrikaner farming community is also playing a diminishing role in South Africa. Their current resistance to even a balanced land expropriation process is leading to unreasonable farm prices. Some of the organizations that speak for them are actually hindering the success of land reform and the cause the banking sector to be reluctant to support options such as a 99-year tenure system. Resistance is largely also why early reasonable efforts in Zimbabwe failed.42,130,146-149 The farmers who have embraced the process supports the viewpoint of the Zimbabwean farmers based on their lessons, namely that the ANC’s idea to look for farms/land that are not in full use and to redistribute these farms.
Barack Obama pointed to the greed to “own more than you need or you can utilize” in his recent Nelson Mandela annual lecture on 17 July 2018 in Johannesburg. White South African landowners must make a change from exclusive capital and move towards inclusive capital ownership. If the process of land expropriation is supported by the White farmers, it could be a moderated process.146 Although some of these White farmers feel that White farmers are ultimately unwelcome, they feel that cooperation could go far in ameliorating the current conflicts.146,149
4.4. Who will rule South Africa after 2019?
The change of Section 25(2)(b) and the implementation of land expropriation with or without compensation greatly depend on the outcome of the 2019 election. If the ANC or an ANC-EFF alliance wins more than 67% of the votes, radical land reform will be a given. A cursory look at the numbers of the three main parties could perhaps shed light on the current situation.
The ANC is currently popular with a certain segment of the population. The fact that it equalling the EFF in terms of radical ideas on land reform means that the EFF is losing ground. Present estimates reflect a rise in the popularity of the ANC attributable to the land debate from 50% to 60%. Despite this, there are several indications that this will not hold.19,57,112,152.153-155
Firstly, the parliamentary hearings revealed that only about 34.2% of the population really supports radical land reform. This means that the new-found radicalism of the ANC may not translate into votes. A recent Victoria Research report shows that the greatest worries of South Africans (Black and White) are unemployment (47%), drugs (23%), crime (20%) and corruption (18%). The ANC has failed to address any of these. The issue of land reached only 6%. What is more, this 6% represents an average. Only 4% of Blacks have an issue with land, while 11% of Whites express concern. Racism featured in only 7% of the answers, so the race care may not work either. Black groups indicated a 16% dislike for Black illegal immigrants, indicating that this is more of an issue.19,57,112,152-157
Since Ramaphosa has come into power, the ANC has attracted fewer votes in 33 out of 47 by-elections. Further is the Ramamania fast making place for Ramaconfusion, -depression and -failure. A large segment of the Black middle class prefers the DA as the favoured party. This is very important, seeing that the growing Black middle class makes up 40% of the labour force, 30% to 35% of the employment revenue generated and nearly 10% of the country’s wealth.19,57,112,152-157
Another blow to the ANC is the ever widening gap between the party and the SACP and Cosatu since the 54th ANC conference in October 2017. Ramaphosa could thus far not heal the rift. His election as president of the ANC came with the exclusion of the SACP’s senior leaders and Cosatu’s top unionists from the ANC’s 80-member national executive committee (NEC). The SACP has also recently started to criticize Zuma and the ANC openly.158,159
A further factor that can deter voters is the continued corruption.160,161 Onkgopotse Tabane161, a well-known journalist, the author of Let’s Talk Frankly and the host of Power Perspective on Power 987, writes161: 14:
The NEC’s continuation of a culture of a missing backbone will turn off voters in big numbers, as they will be convinced that the Ramaphosa-led ANC is still being remotely controlled by Zuma, who is a wrecking ball across the economy. This is the singular threat to the ANC’s electoral fortunes…
The ANC itself is aware of its decline as the favoured party. This is evident from the Boksburg document that was compiled by the ANC during their April 2018 Boksburg conference. The following quotation dated the 13 May 2018, comes from the April 2018 conference. It reads162:4:
If we want to make a significant impact on voter mood we need to use the next 15 months to demonstrate political will, concrete actions, and the capacity to deal with these issues.
This includes concrete and drastic action (not just statements) against corruption, especially among our leaders, and [to] strengthen the capacity of the state to investigate and prosecute offenders.
We also have to provide clear action and proof that we are prioritising job creation and economic development and our efforts are bearing fruit.
The election of 2019 is a threat to the ANC. They are already doing fancy political footwork to stay in power. The internal document of April 2018 after the Boksburg conference reflects a sombre mood within. They have real concerns about losing Gauteng, North West, Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The ANC’s own admission in this document that they “have squandered the goodwill they enjoyed from voters for the past 24 years” and that they intend “to rectify their bad actions immediately in the less than 15 months before the election” is telling. Land redistribution is a desperate attempt to show goodwill towards the voters. Ramaphosa is vulnerable at the moment, and as already indicated, his decision-making could be affected by the up-coming election.91,112,124,163,164 The ANC is trying everything to stay in power. Consider the rhetoric of Zizi Kodwa45, the ANC’s head of the presidency at Luthuli house, in his address to the nation, dated 26h August 201845: 22:
As we celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, we must rededicate ourselves to the ANC’s founding values.
We are under no illusion that the path we have yet to traverse as a Nation towards the realisation of a truly emancipated society free of corruption and all forms of discrimination is a long one. This [Zondo] commission presents us with an opportunity not only to learn from our mistakes, but to also build resilient institutions that can withstand scrutiny and enjoy the confidence of all South Africans.
Ranjeni Munusamy165 brings some much-needed rationality to the table165: 22:
Next year, the ANC will swamp us with election campaign messages about how it will serve our interests. It will beg us to return it to power. Judging by how it failed our nation and let down those who showed courage under fire, why should we believe it?
Munusamy165 shows that there is tremendous distrust in the integrity of the ANC. Poor service delivery, unemployment and the immense dishonesty within the ANC elite have turned the tide against them. The ANC’s intended land grabbing is the final straw for the Black middle class.165 The ANC’s promises have become unconvincing. They fact that the ANC is asking China for help also sends off a red light.166,167 Bruce indicates80:20:
Left to the ANC alone, there is no prospect of any of this getting better. The party simply doesn’t have the will to manage our vast social and mechanical complexity on the ground.
Land expropriation can cost the ANC its rule. Bruce80 describes this possibility poignantly:80: 20
Rich or poor, you will probably, in your heart, have already decided these people [ANC] can’t help you. The land issue will take years to resolve, if it ever is.
I’m not scared, just disappointed. My house isn’t going to be expropriated. Neither would my farm be, if I had one. Even if it wanted to the ANC simply doesn’t have the ability to make land reform happen. It should hand the entire process over to AgriSA, tell it to find x-million hectares and partner with and take responsibility for the new farmers it puts on the land.
That’s easy. The hard part is recasting our politics into something that represents the structure of the economy instead of merely the race of people in it. That will take decades but, mercifully, it’ll end in the demise of the ANC – which, right now, seems to me to be a dream worth work shopping.
Tabane’s12 short “obituary” of the ANC reflects a party that has failed the Black people: a phenomenon he calls the death of Black humanity, where the12:18: “…disappearance of norms and values, leading to dysfunctional families, unstable communities and a society whose sense of outrage have become an optional extra, while the concept of ubuntu has all but disappeared”.
The ANC’s mismanagement of the economy and failure to address service delivery, work, healthcare and education, spells disaster for the party. Tabane12 sees the ANC as the cause of a new Black opposition and the loss of unity. Munusamy11 emphasizes that the world, including ANC supporters, are now aware that the country was run by a shadow state for ten years and that its crooked leadership has not been taken to book. She writes11: 18:
The ANC is instead plotting against itself, ready to place the country in peril again in another reckless battle for power. It is alarming how much ANC leaders distrust one another and how their primary motivation is self-preservation rather than the national interest.
One of the biggest blemishes on the ANC is the Marikana massacre six years ago. The government has yet to take responsibility. Tabane calls it the lowest point in the new South Africa, white-washed by the Farlam commission. The question is, can Blacks lives be entrusted to the ANC regime after 2019?144,168,169 Ramaphosa’s failure to get everyone linked to the Zuma-Gupta scandal out of his cabinet has caused concern. It leaves us thinking that the AND elite is just too untrustworthy, unpredictable and self-centred to be the government of the day.170-172 Eric Naki writes160: 3:
…Ramaphosa, then deputy president, was informed by a major shareholder at VSB early last year that money was being stolen. He allegedly promised to do something about the matter but did nothing.
The political analyst Professor Lesia Teffo takes it to the door of the man who is now supposed to run South Africa with integrity. He writes160: 3:
Ramaphosa kept mum because he was looking after his own interests.
The ANC’s support dropped to an estimated 52% after Ramaphosa’s land expropriation programme was announced.12,75,111,173-176 The present indication is that the ANC will not be able to turn around the distrust before the election. Some analysts project 60%, others as low as 50% (2004: 69.69%, 2009: 65.9%; 2014: 62.1%). The Ipsos poll shows 60%, while the DA’s research reflects less than 50%. The ANC’s own poll by its Luthuli house research team came to 48%.156,157,177
However, the DA cannot take this as a victory yet. The party still has a “Whitish image”. They are not able to attract any of the populistic votes as they do not embrace radical land reform. The DA is also accused of not being open to new ideas, but in practice this criticism is insignificant compared to the emptiness of the ANC and EFF. Another criticism is that their policies are of reminiscent of a party struggling with the dual ambitions of being a national and a regional power. However, this is equally true for the ANC and especially the EFF, which is mainly established in the Venda region and lacks a basic presence in Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.177-183 There also seems to be a negative political culture in the DA. The editor of the Sunday Times wrote as follows in this regard on 12 August 2018:184: 16
The DA is desperate, and worried. The possibility of losing support in next year’s election is real. A recent poll by Ipsos’ predicts that the DA, which received 22% in 2014, could lose as much as 9%. The research says the infighting in the Western Cape could even lead to the DA losing its grip on the province. This would be disastrous, and the DA knows this. Losing the Western Cape, the only province it governs, would render the DA irrelevant.
Initially the thought was that the DA may lose votes to the ANC once Cyril Ramaphose takes over, but this seems doubtful given his plans of radical land reform. The electoral analyst Dawie Scholtz points out that the DA has managed to strengthen their position in the 12 by-elections held since Ramaphosa became president.150,185-187 Some of the most well-known political commentators and journalists are very positive about the DA’s chances in the coming election, pointing out that the DA’s politics is relevant for concerned voters whose politics are based on democracy and capitalism and a Western orientation. These analysts project a possible increased voter turn-out, placing the DA in a stronger position. The findings of the Victory Research project shows that the support of Black voters for the DA has grown between 6% and 10%. This strong Black contingent of followers was evident at the official launch of the DA’s 2019 election campaign at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg on 22 September 2018. The DA also shows no traces of the scandals that have marked the ANC and EFF.157 Their honesty about South Africa’s immense challenges and their clear guidelines that steer clear from empty promises has made them an attractive party. Their opposition to the growing racial nationalism (Black) not only attracts White votes, but also middle and upper class Black votes. It is worthwhile to quote the words of the DA-leader, Mmusi Maimane188. He writes188: 22:
There is no doubt we lost our way as a country. The SA of today bears no resemblance to the country we envisaged for ourselves at the start of our democracy in 1994. Corruption and mismanagement have become endemic to the government, and the result is a country that lags behind its peers on just every measure you can image. Our country still has deep divisions of colour, of gender and religion. But the biggest division in our society is between those on the inside – people with jobs, good education and access to opportunity – and the millions still locked out of our economy.
The Victory Research estimates 23% for the DA in the 2019 election. The steady path of the DA shows that it has a qualified leadership with integrity. They party has grown steadily since 1994.157,189
The EFF in turn is a radical political party, openly and unapologetically hateful of Whites. Land grabbing is central to their policy. They call for the nationalisation of property. Most researchers agree that the party is propelled by extremism, but that they have limited impact. This is not surprising given the general citizenry’s lack of interest in land reform and their deep-seated worry about factors such as unemployment and crime. Even their racist rhetoric does not seem to attract the crowds.19,57,112,152-157 The political scandals in which the party has been involved has also detracted from their support. There is the alleged transfer of R16.1 million to Brian Shivambu, the organizer of the EFF recruiting parties on campuses, and a brother of Floyd Shivambu, deputy-leader of the EFF. It is alleged that R10-million ended up in Floyd Shivambu’s pockets, while only R1.3 million was paid into the EFF’s bank account. It is also alleged that Floyd Shivambu acted as a facilitator of PIC deals and receiving large payments for his time.170,190-192 In reaction to Malema’s denial of the allegations, Munusamy192 reflects:192: 22
Strangely, even when the EFF has been implicated in corruption, its leaders still have the space and ability to manipulate public opinion.
The EFF went on the offensive, attacking people in the National Treasury, commentators and journalists for suggesting these allegations should be investigated and that Shivambu should subject himself to a lifestyle audit.
Malema claimed that these calls emanated from a ‘mob’ of racists and paid ‘Stratcom’ agents.
Malema tweeted this week that his members should remain vigilant and focused as ‘the enemy is attacking’.
Because of the dearth of leadership, many people will take his cue and chase after whomever he defines as the enemy. Even though the EFF’ hypocrisy is exposed, Malema will continue to dictate the national agenda for as long as nobody else does.
Munusamy continues:194: 18
“If it is not invective from the EFF’s leaders that journalists and commentators have to endure, it is the online onslaught from the party’s supporters, including race baiting and death threats”.
Bruce shows that things can go wrong for the EFF in the run-up to the election. He writes:195:16
“By the time we go to the polls, the SARS inquiry will be done and Moyane gone. There’ll be a new head at the National Prosecuting Authority. Arrests will have been made and charges laid”.
The SAPD is also looking around to make arrests, as Bruce193 confirms:193: 20
“If Julius cannot get the EFF out of the corner it is in and goes into the 2019 election visibly damaged, those wavering white voters might relax and stick with the DA”.
In middle October the EFF, after a good run in student council elections on minor campuses, was thumped by the ANC at Wits in Johannesburg.195 Victory Research estimates an outcome of 13%, doubling the votes the party got in its first attempt in 2014 (6.34%). Victory Research also indicates that 25% of ANC voters are interested in voting for the EFF in 2019).19,57,112,153-157
Despite this, it seems the party’s inputs will remain dependent on alliances and focused on controversies. The broader population is just not comfortable with the EFF’s ideology of land grabbing and political instability. Derby178:2 shows that even though some proclaim the EFF as the “centre of a new politics”, the party’s roots represent the thinking and interests of a faction of the ANC, while its economic policies are outdated and framed by those of the ANC, the SACP and the PAC. This limits their growth.178,185 Bruce185 estimates that they will struggle to get 10% of the votes next year.
4.4.1. Overview: South African politics 2018–2019
Despite all the polls and projections, a completely different picture may appear. If the DA gets between 35% and 40%, a different political model can emerge from the present one where the ANC targets the Whites as a racial group thrives on corruption, theft, state capture and a foolish and outdated economic and political communist orientation. A new anti-radicalism can also mean the end of the EFF, as happened with the PAC and the AWB.
An alliance between the EFF and the ANC is unlikely. The EFF has virtually no policy. Their main aim is to disturb the ANC. Their alliance with the DA proved unsuccessful due to their unruliness. The ANC and EFF together could have changed the Constitution already since they share their radical views on land reform, yet the EFF elected to partner with the DA. They promptly proceeded to stab the DA in the back by ousting Athol Trollip as the mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. This means that sudden game-changing alliances seem unlikely.111,150,151
It is a political-historical fact in South Africa that voters rarely change their national government, writes Leon.150:22 The NP won 11 consecutive general elections, and since 1994 the ANC has won five general elections successfully.12,150,179,186,196 However, surprise is a political-historical fact. Not even the strongest regimes last forever.150:22 The Indian Congress Party, the Israeli Labour Party and the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party are excellent examples of such diminishing regimes, although it took between thirty to seventy years to play out.150 Louw42 is supportive of Leon’s150 finding and shows that multi-ethnic mini-empires of multi-nations mostly collapse in a short amount of time. Louw42 writes that their shelf-life is indeed limited, as confirmed by the various empire states of the 20th century: the duration of the Bolsheviks’ Social Union lasted from 1922 to 1991 (69 years); Bismarck’s German Reich 1871 to 1918 (47 years); Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich 1938 to 1944 (12 years); Japan’s Colonial Empire 1905 to 1945 (40 years). The average duration for reigning were 42 years.42 In a South African context, the NP and its nationalist Afrikaner style mini-empire of multi-nations (or the unofficial managed “NP Union”) only lasted from 1948 to 1961 (13 years), and its mini-empire for multi-states (Republic) only from 1961 to 1994 (33 years), while the Union of South Africa under strong British influence lasted from 1910 to 1948 (38 years). This reflects an average of 24 years for the three regimes. In terms of the average of 24 years, the ANC will reach the end of its shelf-life at the end of this year.42 If all the above is true it means the ANC would not have the power to change the Constitution.
South Africans don’t know each other across the racial divide, despite the fact that there are more similarities than differences between the various South African groups.24,41,86 Since 1994 the Whites have been reminded of the sins of apartheid in every single speech, and the recent developments on land has brought them to the point where they doubt they will ever be treated equally.2,7,42
South Africa has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the world and has one of the most unequal societies. Although the roots of these scourges go back to 1671, it is also true that very little has changed since 1994. The improvement will not come from taking from Whites to give to Blacks. What will happen to the poor when nothing is left but very inefficient state machinery? Inequality can only be erased by large-scale permanent employment, affordable housing, better training and education, and the establishment of a stable political environment. We are far from that given the current climate.1-7,14,15
The recent writings of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba,198 summarize very honestly the South African issue of land expropriation without compensation. This article aimed to join the discussion by showing the complexity of the matter. The current political environment is marked by old myths, misconceptions of our own history, and fear to address crucial issues.198 As Magoba198 highlights, going back into history means going back to the time before the 1600s when Black tribes colonised the KhoiSan and the KhoiKhoi. Viewing the Blacks as indigenous people deprived of their land is inaccurate. However, the beginning of apartheid stretches back to 1671 at the Cape. It was a slow process of social engineering to benefit Whites.198
Redistributing land without compensation will not solve this. It can only aggravate the matter, as Makgoba198 shows. Although the inequality in the country means that redistribution should occur, it should not be offered as a panacea for poverty or be based on arguments about who is indigenous and who is not.
The fact is that redistribution is a symbolic act for emotional relief; it is not going to change the lives of the poor. Makgoba198 highlights the fact that the radicals in the ANC don’t really know what they want to do with the expropriated land. There is no sound plan. It’s all about revenge and Whites can rightfully be worried about it.
The relationship between Blacks and Whites is in reality much better than what the radicals in the ANC and EFF want to make it. Threats of war are far-fetched,42,84,157,189 but enormous economic distress is not, and this could be the fuel that ignites racial hate. Venezuela has seen more than three million of its people flee the country as they grow desperate for basic food and medicines.42,199 We must solve these problems constructively, now.199 Archbishop Makgoba’s argument on the land issue is a fitting conclusion to this discussion:198:21
Although I don’t want to turn the current fight over land reform into a free-for-all, we cannot afford to ignore the seizure of land before the current cut-off date of 1913. Expropriation going back to colonial times has sentenced many generations to utter poverty and shame. Laws and practices were maintained by force of arms, leading to a system of landownership and economic development disproportionately based on race.
However, we must recognize that going back to the colonial era raises difficult questions. What happens to white families who have long since sold the land originally seized by their forebears and invested the proceeds? And what about those who bought land for the first time more recently, using big loans from banks? If the banks lose their money, what damage does that do to the economy?
What about the land given in the 19th century to those of our ancestors who helped the colonizers defeat other groups of African people? Who adjudicates those disputes?
While our history gives us no choice but to redistribute land, I am not happy with the way politicians are playing on people’s hunger for redress and their yearning for better lives. In people’s minds, the unjust distribution of land has become a proxy for economic disadvantage, and “expropriation without compensation” is being sold as an instant solution to all our problems, from failed land reform to unemployment. Expropriation does not automatically improve the lives of our people.
I have not heard anyone spell out an overarching vision which takes all the complex practical and emotional factors into account. Nor have I heard a satisfactory answer to the fundamental question: expropriation to do what?
What South Africa needs is a wise man. At the moment the ANC leadership is paralysed. Mthombothi writes:171: 21
They don’t know where to start. And so they tarry or push them aside, hoping they will go away.
The current problems are just too enormous for the current political leadership to solve. When they do attend to the matter, they do it on an explosive and conflict-ridden way, creating more complex problems and crises.171 Mthombothi171: 21 points out that the “normal human reaction when disaster strikes, is to cower”, instead of being ardent, challenged, opportunistic and motivated. South Africa needs a Winston Churchill, who said:171: 21
“Never let a good crisis go to waste”.
We need an executive leader who also knows it’s a time to be bold, to act decisively and think out of the box. It seems that we do not have such a leader at present, neither Black, nor Coloured, Indian or White.200-204
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Not commissioned; Externally peer-reviewed.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The author declares that he has no competing interest.
The research was funded by the Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University, South Africa.
UNSUITABLE TERMS AND INAPPROPRIATE WORDS
Please note that I, the author, am aware that the words Creole, Bantu, Kaffir, Native, Hottentot and Bushman are no longer suitable terms and are inappropriate (even criminal) for use in general speech and writing in South Africa (Even the words non-White and White are becoming controversial in the South African context). The terms do appear in dated documents and are used or translated as such in this article for the sake of historical accuracy. Their use is unavoidable within this context. It is important to retain their use in this article to reflect the racist thought, speech and writings of as recently as sixty years ago. These names form part of a collection of degrading names commonly used in historical writings during the heyday of apartheid and the British imperial time. In reflecting on the leaders and regimes of the past, it is important to foreground the racism, dehumanization and distancing involved by showing the language used to suppress and oppress. It also helps us to place leaders and their sentiments on a continuum of racism. These negative names do not represent my views and I distance myself from the use of such language for speaking and writing. In my other research on the South African populations and political history, I use Blacks, Whites, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaners, Coloureds, KhoiSan (Bushmen), KhoiKhoi (Hottentots) and Boers as applicable historically descriptive names.