The problem is that when general policy failure happens, it is unjustifiable to conclude that the general policy failures are caused by affirmative action, writes Ralph Mathekga.
Showers late. Mostly sunny. Mild.
Max du Preez
There are two conspiracy theories doing the rounds right now regarding the government and the tricky land reform question.
The one is that the ANC is deliberately dragging its feet with land redistribution. The theory goes that thumping the land drum is always a good way of mobilising support among the majority voters in times of dissent.
The other theory is that the ANC never intended for the Land Expropriation Bill, now "temporarily" shelved, to become law. But it served as a sop to its own constituency demanding punitive steps against white landowners, while at the same time giving the ANC something to be gracious about and give up when big business pressured it.
There may well be truth in either or both theories. All I know is that the government's real land agenda is very murky. Keeping the land issue on the back burner until needed as a mobilisation issue certainly worked for Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
The reports that many of the fires that destroyed so much grazing the past week in the summer rainfall areas were started by people who are getting impatient with government's slow reaction to demands for land must make us all sit up and worry.
Lack of progress
What is not a theory but hard fact is that the lack of progress with land redistribution is not the fault of commercial farmers. The blame should but squarely at the door of a corrupt, inept and lazy bureaucracy and a lack of political will.
There are many, many examples of white farmers who are either desperate to sell their land to the state, or have been told that the state wanted to buy their land but nothing happened after that.
Many experts have shown that state-owned land, land seized by the Land Bank because of bankruptcy and land already put up for sale by struggling farmers are more than enough to satisfy the land hunger of the landless for years to come.
Instead the ANC has allowed the whole land issue to simmer, well knowing it is one of the most emotive questions in our country. Commercial farmers are jittery and paranoid; the landless are threatening land invasions; ordinary citizens are getting worked up because of the perceived injustice of it all.
But I also suspect that a part of the reason for the slow pace of land reform is a lack of political courage.
For the process to be really successful, a few very unpopular things have to be stated in no uncertain terms. And the ANC and government will have to say those things.
Firstly, that ownership of agricultural land is not a natural right all South Africans, even all black South Africans, have. There are good arguments for older, more traditional folk to be given patches of land just to produce enough food for themselves, but South Africa cannot afford millions of hectares of productive agricultural land to be used for subsistence farming. We need all productive land to produce food, jobs and foreign currency.
Secondly, that South Africa cannot afford to drive successful farmers of their land. It will not only be unfair, it will breed instability, undermine the economy and create more unemployment.
Thirdly, that those emerging black farmers who get agricultural land, will eventually have to operate financially sound concerns. They need lots of help to start off with, but then they need to get on with it.
If we can organise a Soccer World Cup, surely we can run a successful land reform programme?
Send your comments to Max.
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. News24 editors reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.
A laid-back Skyp chat with Ed Stoppard.
But still went on to surf the world championships!
Here's what other celebs did with their rings after they called off engagements.
You can get flatter abs too!
See Zozi shine!
Maybe it's time to get Sober Curious.
An incredibly rare showdown!
Much lower levels countrywide!
Cape Town Northern SuburbsPlacement Point (Pty) LtdR420 000.00 - R480 000.00 Per Year
Cape TownMoyo Talent Solutions
Century CityMPC ConnectR5 000.00 - R10 000.00 Per Month
R 4 850 000
R 5 300 000
R 15 500 000
We subscribe to the Press Code.
You choose what you want
News24 on Android
Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.
Terms and Conditions
24.com Terms and Conditions - Updated April 2012
Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.
This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.