The country is gearing up to carry out a highly controversial and unpopular land redistribution programme after plans to change the country’s Constitution were approved.
Following months of talks, the country will move ahead with the proposals that will see white-owned farms seized without compensation – something critics warn will be devastating to food security.
In order to counter stiff opposition, “public consultations” with the few loud activists who support the policy, were organised by the ANC and EFF and passed off as a “majority” decision because almost all the participants were blacks.
When legislating, the government routinely avoids public accountability by organising hearings that may technically meet the constitutional requirements, but are held in the remotest of locations, at short notice, at times when most people are at work, and without “providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information,” which is a constitutional requirement.
“South Africans have spoken loud and clear, and we listened to their cry,” Lewis Nzimande, the co-chair of the committee, announced towards the end of “consultations”.
Previously, Ramaphosa also claimed: “It has become pertinently clear that our people want the constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation as demonstrated in the public hearings,” in a televised address.
Critics of the plans have already warned repeatedly that white land seizures will lead to mass starvation and riots.
Ian Cameron, of South African white union AfriForum, underscored the growing violence that has accompanied the land grab amendment. Shortly after the decision was announced, AfriForum said the “large-scale damage” it will cause will be permanent.
“We’re really heading for a state of anarchy if something doesn’t change drastically. I’m convinced this year we’ll see between 21 000 to 22000 people having been murdered in the past year,” Cameron warned.
South Africa’s opposition parties have also questioned the move, saying it was done for political reasons. Analysis firm NKC African Economics described the announcement as “populist rhetoric with no clear answers,” in a note.
Meanwhile, in the growing climate of violence, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the black Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, in a statement defended the black student and activist who used the words “one settler, one bullet” in the acknowledgments page of his honours dissertation. He later repeated the wording on social media.
When many people complained, insisting that the executive act against the activist, Phakeng tweeted her support for him in broken English: “Congratulations dear son on completing this paper! I would like to study it at some stage. In the meantime, let me be kliye [clear]: i am proud of you! Way more than you can imagine! Welldone!”
Historically, the slogan was used by the PAC’s armed wing APLA which, in the early 1990s, carried out a series of attacks against white civilian targets in which numerous people were murdered, including in a church and a pub near UCT.
But according to Phakeng, the university “is a space where diverse ideas and opinions matter and are allowed to be expressed. […] He has a right to express his views”.
She said the call to murder whites was “an educational opportunity” and noted that South African courts have not yet made any finding about whether the “one settler, one bullet” slogan is hate speech.
Last week, Masixole directly tweeted out his slogan, adding that “each bullet will take us closer to freedom”. He first come to public prominence as a leading activist in the “Shackville protests” on campus in February 2016, in which numerous works of European art were burnt in a bonfire on campus.
Masixole was one of eight protestors granted amnesty by the university’s Council for these and other acts of violence and intimidation. As Chairperson Sipho Pityana explained at the time this meant “the expunging from the student’s academic record of all information about the offences related to the Shackville protests.”