Goodwill on both sides needed to resolve land issue


In my book called Flagwatching which was published in 2015, I wrote about the critical impact that future land ownership would have on the socio-economic prospects for our country.

This is what I said:

"The final flag, despite being cloudy and uncertain, has aspects of a clock about it because it is a ticking time bomb. It is an inflammatory flag. It is the only flag that, in a worst case scenario, can ignite a civil war.

It should be recalled that the Boers were winning the war in 1900 against the greatest imperial power at the time, Great Britain.

Then along came Lord Herbert Kitchener who was utterly ruthless and implemented a strategy to make the Boer commandos surrender: the burning of their farms and the introduction of concentration camps in which over 26 000 women and children died.

Concentration camps were a British, not a German invention. In this regard, I am disgusted by the country of my birth.

The idea that a forceful seizure of the agricultural land will follow the Zimbabwean pattern and merely displace the current owners vastly underestimates their resolve to stay put. Equally, the idea that the status quo is sustainable is absurd. There has to be more equitable distribution of land between blacks and whites.

The other issue that cannot be sidestepped is food security. Of the 122 million hectares that constitute the total area of South Africa, only 16.6 million hectares are considered arable, which means land that is suitable for dryland crop production without irrigation. That is 13.6%.

Thus, the proposal that much of the land can be redistributed by dividing it up into smaller farms (or even subsistence units) ignores the fact that a farming region like the Karoo can only take a limited number of animals per hectare. Putting more animals on the land will simply destroy it.

So the best case scenario for this flag is a mixture of dividing up the land where it can be done and collective ownership where it can’t. Overarching any change is the need for financial and technical support for new black commercial farmers.

Such a formidable problem can only be resolved with goodwill on both sides and some form of ‘Agridesa’ to negotiate a solution, similar to the Codesa negotiations of the early 1990s.

The current approach of one side putting up unilateral proposals for reforming land ownership and the other side defending the status quo at all costs is a dangerous non-starter."

We now have five months to negotiate a sensible solution.

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.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Who do you think was to blame for the opening lap crash at the Silverstone Grand Prix?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Lewis Hamilton
61% - 3399 votes
Max Verstappen
6% - 341 votes
Neither, it was a racing incident
32% - 1800 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.