The Land Question

5 Jun 2018

“One Race, the Human Race, Now” is almost as radical a call as “expropriation of land without compensation”, any amendment to the Constitution on the land ownership must by necessity refer to Race. It might be one of the last hurdles before we can put race behind us….and start living the dream of being part of one race, the Human Race.

Since 1994 half of all farming properties have changed hands. (a research finding from the University of the Western Cape). Reports have also shown that the government could have bought half the farms in the country if they were really serious about land restitution.

Three Groups

If a poll was undertaken of the views on the land question, three groupings could be identified.

Group One

The hard-liners, just take the land away regardless. It is retribution for the white ancestors coming to South Africa and occupying the land. It is a Zimbabwe style land grab with no consideration for outcomes to the economy or the future. Those not supporting the legalising of land grabs are regarded as sell-outs. It is purely a territorial stance, not about commercial farming or that 70% of the population live in cities. Almost assuming there has been no change since the first Europeans came to Africa. It is a silver bullet approach…just take the land and poverty for blacks will end….and even if poverty does not end it does not matter.

Group Two

Due process is followed, the review of clause 25 of chapter two of the Constitution is supported and any amendments will be accepted, including that no change to the Constitution is necessary for expropriation without compensation under laid down conditions. There is a genuine desire for a just settlement for present-day white landowners. This attitude is supportive of reconciliation. This group is fully committed to the growth of the economy, including the growth of agricultural productivity. There is a modern approach to Globalisation and the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), something like the EU, is regarded as an essential for all progressive countries in Africa.…..needing the talent and ability of all South Africans.

Group Three

These are the ones making the most noise but cannot decide whether they fall into Group One or Group Two. They battle to move away from outrageous racist taunts and like a militant union want to drum up mass mobilisation. There is no commitment to the outcome or understanding of what is right for the economy.  Pragmatism and common sense are not included in their discourse.  The question, will they join the national debate and collaborate, or will they continue their aggressive confrontation?

There were shortcomings in the way the ANC Government handled land claims – mostly the title deeds were not placed in the new owners’ hands, so they did not own the land – meaning obtaining development funding, using land as collateral was not possible.

Many other factors contributed to generally poor outcomes of the land expropriated – damage of the land in some cases.  This quote from Tito Mboweni says it all; “The poor relationship between land restitution and agricultural performance would haunt the ANC for a long time. The relevant minister’s key performance indicator was how much land was taken away from commercial farmers without thinking of its likely impact on food production”.