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Cyril Ramaphosa. Wikipedia

South Africa: ‘You can’t conjure up farmers’

The futility of trying to debate with the ANC at the recent public hearings on the South African government’s proposal to introduce legislation permitting land to be expropriated without compensation, was obvious. ANC supporters would only respond that they were "sick and tired of white people".

Published: August 21, 2018, 5:55 pm

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    Whites were even warned that “going to international courts” would not help because “the land will be taken physically”. One ANC provincial official declared that since Jan van Riebeeck, the Dutch administrator sent to the Cape in 1652, “set foot on South Africa’s soil, whites have been rapists!”

    On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that land grabs must be speeded up.

    Giving the keynote address at the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa’s (Afasa) Agribusiness Transformation Conference Gala Dinner in Kempton Park, Ramaphosa said the amendment of section 25 of the country’s constitution would enable “transformation”, the euphemism for a Marxist revolution.

    The clauses in the constitution dealing with expropriation of land do not expressly state that land can be requisitioned in the manner in which the ANC desires.

    Once these clauses are removed, “we will then be able to speed ahead with our land reform processes”, said Ramaphosa. He added that the redistribution of land would continue alongside the expropriation of land without compensation, News24 reported.

    “Through accelerated land redistribution, and with the necessary support from the state, more and more black farmers will emerge, unlocking the economic potential both of land and of people,” he said.

    Ramaphosa’s land grab gamble paid off when he received the green light from Theresa May’s government in April this year. After bilateral talks with May, the British Prime Minister agreed to reward the South African regime with foreign aid of almost a billion rand.

    He was also rewarded with a visit to The Queen, a privilege even President Donald Trump was not afforded.

    ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe meanhile sparked more panic last week when he said: “You shouldn’t own more than 25 000 acres of land. Therefore, if you own more it should be taken without compensation.”

    The two game farms in the northern province of Limpopo appear to be the first properties that will be expropriated without following a court process. The owners, who dispute the validity of the land claims lodged against their property, argue that their land is worth at least R200 million while the government had previously offered them only R20 million.

    They now stand to lose everything. In a letter from the ANC regime to Akkerland Boerdery, owners were told: “Notice is hereby given that a terrain inspection will be held on the farms on April 5 2018 at 10am in order to conduct an audit of the assets and a handover of the farm’s keys to the state.”

    In the case of Akkerland, the owners were not given the opportunity to first dispute the claim in court, as the law requires. The salient fact that Akkerland also had an offer from Coal of Africa, which wanted to buy the farm for the Makhado coal mining project, is never mentioned in the media. This was, however, subject to the approval of the land claims commission because of the pending land claim.

    Last week, Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane signed another two final orders for expropriation in terms of section 42E of the Restitution of Land Rights Act.

    Another fact that is never mentioned, is that black farm workers will be losing their jobs and even their rights to accommodation on these to-be-confiscated farms. The state’s programme of acquiring land for redistribution has been contributing to the increase of poverty in rural areas.

    The National African Farmers’ Union (Nafu), which represents black farmers, warned that land grab would lead to job losses, according to Nafu president Motsepe Matlala.

    AfriForum, an Afrikaner lobby group, recently warned the government its plans would be “catastrophic”. Ian Cameron, the group’s spokesman, said: “We’re really heading for a state of anarchy if something doesn’t change drastically.”

    Last year international researchers hired by the Western Cape government to look into the economic consequences of land reform, discovered that their findings would not be published. Afrikaans-language newspaper Rapport reported that the “government was so upset about the damning findings that researchers were in the interim denied access to more farms and state data”.

    The ANC government officials driving the land grab appear oblivious to the economic hardship they will be unleashing.

    Unemployment is at 27.2 percent, the highest in the world and since the announcement by the ANC that they will be confiscating white farms, the currency has fallen 20 percent against the US dollar.

    After declining in the first quarter of 2018 from late last year, sentiment regarding conditions in the South African property market dropped further in the second quarter of the year, according to ABSA Bank. “The land reform issue causes uncertainty regarding property as an investment (25 percent), with some political uncertainty still prevailing (25 percent)”.

    The South African government’s efforts to redistribute land have been an abject failure, with many of the new owners having little experience to make a success of it. “The policy has also stirred racial tensions,” the LA Times reported in 2010.

    Some 90 percent of the redistributed farms have failed, leaving idle nearly 15 million acres of once productive farmland, about 6 percent of South Africa’s arable land.

    “The whole policy is set up for failure,” said John Kane-Berman of the South African Institute of Race Relations. “This is a very tough country to farm in, and you take people without a great deal of experience and without the dedication and commitment to farming and it’s not surprising that they fail.

    “You can speed up the redistribution of land, but you can’t conjure up farmers.”

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