Guest Column

AfriForum peddling facts, not fear or naivety

2018-08-29 09:13
A bakkie emblazoned with an anti-farm murder slogan. (James de Villiers/News24)

A bakkie emblazoned with an anti-farm murder slogan. (James de Villiers/News24)

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Max du Preez misses the mark in his article "Land reform’s Codesa moment" when he argues that AfriForum is peddling in fear regarding farm murders and expropriation without compensation. AfriForum however also does not want to peddle naivety and denialism like Du Preez does and therefore rather peddles facts.

Hope for the future can only be created by solidly staring the realities of South Africa in the eye and then going to work with a well-planned strategy to influence these realities for the greater good. I encourage Du Preez to read the ANC’s strategy documents. Therein he will see that the ANC follows a "Balance of Forces" approach. According to this approach, the ANC will only take a step back should there be enough pressure on them to do so.

The fact remains that on 31 July of this year President Cyril Ramaphosa announced with bravado that the ANC will amend the country’s Constitution to make expropriation without compensation possible. After the public and international pressure that followed after AfriForum publishing the government’s own "expropriation list", the ANC is on its hind legs and they haunt the doorsteps of nearly every agricultural organisation. Du Preez’s prejudice toward AfriForum is seemingly so big that he cannot bring himself to admit this.

For the exact reason of the ANC only reacting to pressure, AfriForum will continue uninterruptedly to mobilise international pressure against farm murders and expropriation without compensation by simply carrying on voicing the facts regarding events in South Africa. These facts are as follows:

It is false that the number of farm murders in South Africa is decreasing. Statistics on farm murders by the agricultural union TAU SA – including verifiable victim names, farm names and dates when the murders were committed – confirmed that farm murders were at their highest level in 13 years last year. 

A well-grounded PoliticsWeb analysis of the South African Police Service (SAPS) statistics further indicates that the police statistics used by AgriSA to create the impression that farm murders are decreasing, have serious shortcomings. Those who try to downplay farm murders by showing that the number of farm murders is lower than 20 years ago, ignore the fact that the number of commercial farmers has almost halved over the same period. 

PoliticsWeb also found that a white farmer’s chance of being killed is estimated to be 3,2 times higher than the country’s already outrageously high average murder rate, confirming that farm murders are a serious crisis that needs urgent attention. The attempt to dismiss the concern about farm murders – and the horrific torture that sometimes accompanies farm murders – as an exaggeration of the problem, shows a lack of sensitivity toward the victims of farm murders.

AfriForum regards farm murders as a serious violation of human rights, that should be condemned by all mainstream role players and governments worldwide who believe in the protection of human rights. 

The fact that there are small groups of white nationalists who try to hijack the battle against farm murders, does harm to a justified case, while denialists of farm murders try to discredit the battle by falsely trying to connect it to fringe figures. AfriForum therefore deliberately and at all costs avoided any liaison with fringe figures and white nationalists during its foreign campaign against farm murders.

Those who also try to dismiss fears about the violation of property rights and expropriation without compensation in South Africa, apparently ignore the fact that the South African president, the country’s government leaders and the ruling ANC have on numerous occasions made statements that confirm that they are committed to violating property rights in the country. The following are examples of this:

- In December 2017, the ANC at its congress officially decided to accept expropriation without compensation as party policy.

- On 27 March this year, the South African newspaper City Press reported that Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, said government would not wait until the Constitution was amended and that her department was preparing a test case to expropriate land without compensation. She also indicated that her department has already identified the land they want to expropriate, but that she was not going to reveal the list of farm names because that would warn the involved owners to prepare for legal action. 

- On 31 July 2018, pres. Cyril Ramaphosa made a late-night announcement on television that he and the ANC had decided to continue to amend the South African Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation. This announcement was made while the South African parliament’s public participation process was not yet completed, thus reducing the participation process to a farce.

- On 5 August this year another article appeared in City Press, indicating that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, upon instruction by the ANC, identified 139 farms for expropriation without compensation. Zizi Kodwa, member of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), is cited extensively in this article. This article’s content has also not been contested by the ANC. On the same day, the Sunday Times reported that according to Ronald Lamola, the party’s spokesperson on land, the ANC identified 139 farms that would serve as "expropriation targets".

- The ANC and the government’s expropriation plans unfortunately became racially stained when Deputy President David Mabuza said in Pretoria on 6 April this year that white farmers should voluntarily give up their land in order to prevent a violent takeover. 

- The statement on 7 July this year by Zweli Mkhize, Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, that no property of any black person or black group will be expropriated, further gave a racial dimension to government’s expropriation plans.

AfriForum’s analysis of the facts at its disposal indicates that the state has only now begun to expropriate farms at a price significantly below its market value. The proposed expropriation process of a farm called Akkerland Farming in Limpopo, the owner of which has received notice to vacate his farm within seven days, has already begun. The state is offering the owner only 10% of the land’s market value as compensation.

Should this expropriation succeed, it will in itself already constitute a gross violation of property rights, and will pave the way for President Ramaphosa’s announced plan to amend the Constitution to eventually expropriate property without any compensation.

Unfortunately, the ANC also uses false statistics about land ownership patterns in South Africa to try to justify its violation of property rights. It is false that so-called "white" farmers own 72% of land in South Africa. According to PoliticsWeb’s analysis, the figure is about 22% of South Africa’s total surface area.

AfriForum thus believes that there is enough reason to continue to seek international support for the protection of property rights and against farm murders. And that is what we are going to continue doing.

- Kriel is CEO of AfriForum.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    kallie kriel  |  max du preez  |  farm murders  |  land expropiation  |  land
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