Just to be clear, you’re not reading an article from Zimbabwe circa-1999. But the latest developments in South Africa, where new president Cyril Ramaphosa has openly called for the confiscation of farmland owned by whites, is eerily reminiscent of former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe’s campaign for “land reform”, initiated in 1999.
Mugabe eventually admitted that his wrongheaded, callous efforts to wrest land from knowledgeable, productive white farmers and give it to his political allies – who, by the way, had little to no ability or knowledge to handle such a massive responsibility – was ‘flawed’. But that hasn’t stopped other African leaders – including a 91-year-old Mugabe, again – from continuing to drive white farmers from their legally-purchased lands in the name of avenging the “original sin” of the past.
Predictably, the efforts headed by Mugabe in 1999 resulted in violence, primarily against farmers who naively, and often bravely, stayed in the hope that Mugabe and his supporters would realize the error of their ways and change their minds. Human Rights Watch has detailed those atrocities, yet Mugabe was permitted to remain in his role as dictator of Zimbabwe until this year. The cratering of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector as the result of the ‘reforms’ caused the nation to go from the most prosperous in Africa – especially back when it was known as Rhodesia – to a hyper-inflation-riddled bastion of poverty. However, this ultimate result of ‘land reform’ apparently struck different people in very different ways.
To most, it was an example of despicable, misguided race-based policies that had resulted in generational despair for everybody in the nation, black and white. Apparently, the likes of former notoriously corrupt South African president Jacob Zuma and his heir, Cyril Ramaphosa, surveyed the state of Zimbabwe post-land confiscation and said, ‘Hey, that looks like one hell of a good idea!’.
The racial and ethnic tensions in Africa will never cease to exist. That much is apparent by now, as it is apparent across the globe.
But for leaders to make such massive, carbon-copy mistakes in such a short period of time – remember that Mugabe’s campaign began less than 20 years ago, it’s results far fresher than that – is dumbfounding. Ramaphosa will bear and deserve the lion’s share of the blame should he go through with his proposal to take farms from white owners and hand it to black ones, no compensation exchanged in the process. But, it wasn’t even Ramaphosa’s idea.
That ominous distinction goes to his predecessor, Zuma, who first publically called for land confiscation in March of 2017. But, to state the obvious, Zuma is gone now. And, according to Ramaphosa, his number one priority is not to tamp down crime in the nation that saw 19,000 murders and 39,000 rapes in a single year, not to mention chronic burglary and carjacking issues. Nor is it to fix an economy that has seen 25% unemployment, stagnant growth, and endemic poverty in recent years.
No, Ramaphosa believes that the sins of the past must come before the many ills of the present.
‘Yesterday Ramaphosa addressed the nation’s parliament in Cape Town and made clear that his priority is to heal the divisions and injustice of the past, going all the way back to the original European colonists in the 1600s taking land from the indigenous tribes.
Ramaphosa called this “original sin”, and stated that he wants to see “the return of the land to the people from whom it was taken… to heal the divisions of the past.”’ (Sovereignman.com)
South Africans who thought that they were past the reparations stage, that Nelson Mandela had helped cure the resentment towards whites in a nation chronically plagued by issues attributed to racial differences, better think again. And, white South African famers themselves have suggested that Ramaphosa is deadly serious about his intentions to take their land from them by force, and that this could lead to a full-blown race war.
‘The president’s comments caused outrage among white landowners, with the chairman of a national group for Afrikaans speaking farmers warning the new law will be “a declaration of war.”
“We are ready to fight back,” said Andries Breytenbach, the group’s chairman. “We need urgent mediation between us and the government. If this starts, it will turn into a racial war which we want to prevent.”’ (Your News Wire)
But, never fear. This time the economy isn’t going to be harmed. Presumably, it will be helped. Right, Mr. Ramaphosa?
“We will handle it in a way that is not going to damage our economy,” Ramaphosa added.
What’s that saying? Those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it?
Surely, President Ramaphosa knows the history of Zimbabwe. Surely, he’s going to have a novel approach that will not:
a) doom the economy irreparably
b) drive out the totality of white farmers from South Africa, whether from fear or direct threat
c) create lingering resentment and fear that forces virtually all white people to flee South Africa indefinitely, whether they farm or not
No, Ramaphosa has got this under control. This land confiscation plan will end well for all parties.