South Africa: Land occupation intensifies
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has received a donation of R858 million from the United Kingdom, while the country is increasingly struggling to attract foreign investment in a climate of investment insecurity and faltering economic growth after the ANC leader promised white land grabs.
Published: April 20, 2018, 10:09 am
Problems with bad service delivery, safety and security, efficient financial management and infrastructure upkeep and development and unrealistic promises of taking white land, have not inspired foreign investors weighing up investment possibilities in South Africa.
The donation may be seen as a lifeline to the unpopular president and his latest anti-white policies.
The president has simply ignored South Africa’s economy and governmental challenges in order to boost his chances of appealing to an extremist minority.
The ANC’s reckless statements about white land expropriation without compensation together with the EFF’s radical incitement have open the door for numerous black land-grabbing opportunists, like the ones occupying land just outside Bloemfontein in the Heidedal area.
Members of the Heidedal community have reportedly been occupying a piece of open land since Wednesday – they are unhappy because the government still has not provided them with houses.
“One cannot help but wonder if the government is making these reckless statements on purpose to motivate communities, particularly those in informal settlements, to address the housing problem, which the government has been unable to solve over the last 25 years, themselves,” Jan van Niekerk, Freedom Front Plus provincial leader in the Free State province, told FWM.
“In this way, the irresponsible and incompetent politicians can sit back while community members put their lives at stake in a misguided attempt to obtain a place to call home.”
The land occupations are accompanied by large-scale damage to property and violence and occupants are not only endangering their own lives, but also the lives and well-being of the rest of the community.
“They are acting on radical populist statements made by ANC and EFF politicians who play on people’s basic needs to score cheap points in the runup to the 2019 elections,” says Van Niekerk.
“The ANC is supposed to lead responsibly. They must stop making reckless and thoughtless statements about the senseless plan to expropriate land without compensation. Instead, they should focus on doing their constitutional duty and making good on the promises of proper housing that they made to South Africa’s citizens,” he added.
Vrygrond, an informal settlement outside Cape Town, came to a standstill this week as black residents cordoned off roads with burning tyres and attempted to erect structures on pivately owned land in the area.
Black protestors say they were highlighting lack of housing and overcrowding. Their efforts were halted by the Red Ants, a private security outfit along with the city’s anti land invasion unit.
This is not the first time the area has seen such protests. A resident interviewed by South African news service eNCA said: “Xhosa [a black tribe in Cape Town] and coloured people should not be renting spaces at the back of the houses, they should own their own plots at the back.”
The black residents say they will not be deterred by the police presence and will intensify their efforts until the City of Cape Town addresses their grievances.
The uprising over a lack of affordable housing comes barely a month after attempted large-scale invasions in the coastal town of Hermanus, also in the Cape, in an attempted land grab.
The invasions resulted in over 25 people being arrested for land invasions, public violence and other illegal activities.
In Mafikeng, in the North West province, where black residents are demanding the resignation of ANC Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, two people have already died in the second day of clashes between police and protesters.
The province has been paralysed by the ANC’s inability to keep its infighting within the party and black residents are being terrorised because they have complained about Mahumapelo’s bad leadership and rampant corruption.
Roads to and from town have been closed and businesses have closed their doors fearing more riots. Classes at the NWU Mafikeng campus have also been cancelled due to the violent protests to protect students.
The FF Plus says it is particularly worried that the violence may spread to the rest of the province. “Mahumapelo is too stubborn to step down as premier and the ANC lacks political leadership to get rid of him.”
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