Land question going nowhere under incompetent, corrupt ANC

Greedy politicians have grabbed farms for themselves, which they have then allowed to deteriorate while genuine black farmers have struggled for land, the writer says. /Moeletsi Mabe
Greedy politicians have grabbed farms for themselves, which they have then allowed to deteriorate while genuine black farmers have struggled for land, the writer says. /Moeletsi Mabe

The land question is back in the centre of our national discourse, now championed by a pseudo revolutionary wearing a red beret.

The fashion for people who want to appear blacker than thou by feigning anger over the land question is very old. The PAC did it, the Black Consciousness Movement also did it. Even kleptocratic madmen like Andile Mngxitama formed mercenary brigades using land as a pretext.

It is interesting that all organisations that have used land for political mobilisation have never succeeded in attracting the overwhelming support of the people they claim to be fighting for - we black people.

From the PAC to Mngxitama, all so-called champions of the land question ended up like little spaza shops. We should therefore worry less about the latest bluster of whichever pseudo revolutionary is in vogue.

Those who are sober must focus on the real question: why, after two decades of democracy, have we not moved an inch in restoring land to black people? And what is to be done?

Credible black lawyers such as former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke have repeatedly reminded our pseudo revolutionaries that the current South African constitution does provide for land expropriation.

The constitution is not the problem.

There are two fundamental impediments that have stood in the way of a meaningful land restitution programme over the past 24 years.

The first, and probably the most serious impediment, is the incompetence of the ANC government.

So incompetent is our government that it does not know who owns which land in South Africa. Which land will it redistribute if it does not know who owns what?

The incompetence also manifests itself in the ANC's unscientific approach to land redistribution. The party does not know how many black students are studying agriculture at which universities.

How can a government hope to redistribute land to black people without producing agricultural skills among blacks?

The second impediment is pure corruption. When there is public debate on land redistribution, top dogs in the ANC think of themselves first. We have seen pigs eating pigs on a farm owned by Thandi Modise. This happened while genuine black farmers were battling to secure land.

Modise is not alone; Gwede Mantashe is another, Cyril Ramaphosa yet another.

Corruption does not only involve the ANC, it also includes rich white people who own vast tracts of land. They bribe ANC politicians to ensure that nothing like proper land redistribution happens. Indeed, nothing has been happening.

This game will not go on forever; a day will come when a truly mad pseudo revolutionary will cause real trouble using land as a pretext.

It is in the interest of white people who own land to share it with black people, not as a matter of charity. When mayhem broke out in Zimbabwe, arrogant white farmers were reduced to pitiable souls.

In South Africa mayhem can never be allowed. But white land owners must share with black people. It is very simple to do this; a farm owner must give equity to the labourers who work the land.

The excuse about finance is nonsense. Banks have always given white farmers loans; why can't they give white farmers and their workers loans jointly?

The point here is not to expel whites from their land, it is to ensure that they co-own land with the black people who are involved in making the land productive.

We also need to attend to the skills question urgently. If we were to invest in this regard we could produce a sizeable number of black agronomists within a decade. The Afrikaners did it.

The message here is simple: you can amend the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation and nothing (or chaos) happens after that.

X