Land grabs: South Africa's future plight

Fubar Bundy

“Learn from your mistakes,” the old adage goes. But I have found that learning from the mistakes of others is much more practical, and often, far less painful.

Very few people in the world are not aware of the fact that its land expropriation policy had been the ruin of Zimbabwe. Right from the start, it was obvious that this was nothing but a political (racist) ploy to rid the country of white farmers (who were world renowned for their agronomic expertise), and to gain votes from the local populace.

The disastrous effects of the land grab in Zimbabwe will be felt for many generations to come – the cost of this catastrophe to the people, and the country as a whole, is inestimable.

The nation, once called “the breadbasket of Africa,” now relies on international aid to feed growing numbers of its population, according to the World Food Program. Its people are scattered far and wide to others countries – people who have decided to make a new life for themselves; away from the place which they have the misfortune of calling “home.”

Here in Pretoria (where I’m currently visiting an old friend), scores of Zimbabweans can be seen at traffic lights and street corners – desperately looking for something, anything, to do. My heart goes out to them; their suffering and misery is there for all to see.

They spend their days waiting in the scorching African sun – begging for handouts – and are often used by unscrupulous contractors as cheap labour.

Nothing is as painful as seeing a man, or a woman – forced by circumstances beyond their control – who have to swallow their pride and beg on the streets to make a living.

But it would seem as if ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and his corrupt communist cronies in the ANC-led government, have learned absolutely nothing from the Zimbabwean tragedy.

At a recent ANC conference, it was resolved that the ANC should, as a matter of policy, pursue expropriation of land without compensation.

Speaking at Inanda, in KwaZulu-Natal, Ramaphosa said the ANC will take back the land and return it to the people, just as the organisation's forefathers would have wanted.

“We are saying that land will indeed be returned. We are going to take that land and put it in the hands of our people, whether they like it or not. It is going to happen.”

(“They,” being the white farmers of South Africa, no doubt.)

Ramaphosa is doing what politicians do so well: painting pretty pictures and making empty promises to the gullible masses – clearly trying to garner votes from the “previously disadvantaged people,” – as blacks have taken to refer to themselves in post-apartheid South Africa. Ramaphosa is desperate to become the next president of the country; replacing Zuma, who has been an embarrassment for many years.

Ramaphosa recently stated this process (expropriation of land without compensation) would not harm the economy, the agricultural sector, or affect food security.

Only an utter fool would believe this reckless and irrational statement by Ramaphosa.

To quote Stephen Mulholland (a prominent journalist and editor): “Ramaphosa needs to learn that you cannot have your cake and eat it. You cannot seize land from productive farmers, give it to neophytes, and expect the nation to continue to be able to feed itself.”

“You might feel good and virtuous about righting ancient wrongs, but you will be simultaneously sentencing your people to a Zimbabwean plight.”

In a decade or two, will we be seeing thousands of South African refugees, sitting on the streets in the cities of Zimbabwe, looking for something, anything, to do?

Only time will

- Bundy is a renowned writer, of Indian origin, who travels the world and comments on the state of the various nations in general; and the level of development of selected countries in particular.

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.

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