There are two certainties regarding the political future of South Africa: the land issue is not going to solve itself, or just go away - as some people would like to believe - and the EFF is not going to shut up about it. Like a barking dog in the night, the [un] Economic Freedom Fighters, self-appointed liberators of imperialistic oppression, will not leave it alone. And rightly so.
For twenty years the ANC has pussy-footed around the land issue. When it suits their own needs - ie. staying at the helm of the gravy train - the ANC is quite comfortable making emotive promises around land ownership to the largely uneducated electorate that keeps voting them back into power. But, as is the case the world over, voters don't always see election promises fulfilled.
So, the land issue simmers away, year in and year out. The have-nots want the land, and the haves don't want to let it go. Is there really an equitable solution? Can we deal correctly with the land issue in a way that satisfies all interested parties? We have to hope so, because if we don't, we are surely sitting on a time bomb.
I refer to the [un] Economic Freedom Fighters, because really, there is nothing economic about them. Their rhetoric is always the same: ownership, rights, entitlement, freedom, justice, make-the-province-ungovernable, blah, blah. What I have yet to hear from the lips of any of their red-coated leaders is a credible answer to: wait for it...
Ownership of land does not make the land automatically produce food crops. With urbanisation running at an historical high (and increasing), the need for arable land to be farmed commercially is pivotal to resolving the land issue. From an economic perspective, it makes no difference if farm land is owned by blacks or whites or yellow or greens or blues. What is increasingly certain is that rural land must provide food for the growing number of urban dwellers. There is no way around this.
The recent example of our northern neighbour is a case in point. Expropriation of land: yes, absolutely! Settling the score with the colonial slave-masters: of course! Justice: 100%! Food Security: uh, how do you spell that?
The results were disastrous. Yes, the whites were sent packing, but so were a few million indigenous blacks who suddenly found no work on the farms; no food in the supermarkets; no petrol at the pumps. Fortunately for many of them South Africa’s borders were wide open, and they were able to start a new life.
So, Mr Malema and company - yes, by all means chase the land issue. Keep it in the public domain so that we cannot simply ignore it. Beat it with a stick until all parties engage on this critical issue and we can get it resolved. Let's start a national debate. But, until the EFF starts to show some real economic savvy, you're really just barking dogs and you don't get my vote.
BTW: I am a descendant of white settlers. I never asked them to come and settle here, but here I am anyway, and I love this country and its people enough to do what it takes to make it work out.
Oh, and I don't own any land - neither do many of my white friends: we pay rent.