White South Africans farmers, fearful of the government’s plan to seize land without compensation, are putting their property up for sale in record numbers, but no one is buying.
African National Congress leaders continue to agitate for land expropriation, stoking rage and resentment among the black population.
We live like sardines while white farmers live on hectares of land. Bring back our land!” declared Nthabiseng Tshivhenga, a black civil servant.
Her intervention prompted enthusiastic applause at a public hearing organised by parliament on the hugely sensitive issue of reforming land ownership in South Africa.
“Our forefathers were robbed of their dignity through brutal colonialists” who seized land, she said.
“The majority of the people in this country are black. Yet they are the poorest. Let’s expropriate without compensation!” said the mother with her fist raised.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is the biggest cheerleader for expropriation.
Twenty-four years on and the white community that makes up eight percent of the population “possess 72 percent of farms” compared to “only four percent” in the hands of black people who make up four-fifths of the population, according to Ramaphosa.
To remedy the imbalance, the president recently announced that the constitution would be altered to allow for land to be seized and redistributed without compensation to the current owners.
For some, changing the constitution is a technicality:
Constance Mogale of the Alliance for Rural Democracy — a network of associations supportive of land expropriation without compensation — has described the proposed change to the highest law in the land as a mere “election ploy”.
The constitution already allows for land to be expropriated without compensation, she said, echoing the view of several experts in the field.
“Amending the constitution is going to take forever, it is not going to bring the land to the people,” she said.
Roselyn Seaga, 67, was in tears as she spoke to the assembled local residents.
“Since I was born, I never had a piece of land that I can call home,” she said.
A blind man can see where this is headed. The ANC keeps insisting that expropriation in South Africa will be nothing like it was in Zimbabwe, where chaos in the countryside led to the slaughter of white farmers. But they are deliberately ratcheting up rage and resentment against whites, not to mention raising expectations for blacks sky high, as that tearful woman who believes government is just going to give her land illustrates.
The National African Farmers’ Union, an organization that represents black farmers and a potential direct beneficiary of expropriation, is unconvinced. Nafu president Motsepe Matlala said: “From a practical and economical point of view it will not work.” Those black farmers realize all too well that if government can seize land without compensation from whites, they can do it to blacks too.
Every time an ANC official opens his mouth about expropriation, it will become harder to avoid the catastrophe. There are voices of reason on land reform who see it as a longterm process that would happen over many years. But they are being drowned out by the white hot rhetoric of black racists who wish to exact revenge on the white minority for decades of oppression.
This is not going to end well.