While the West turns a blind eye, South Africa is embarking on the same path that led to Zimbabwe’s economic and humanitarian catastrophe. On February 27, the South African parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion that will begin the process of amending the country's Constitution to allow for the confiscation of white-owned land without compensation.
The motion was introduced by Julius Malema, leader of the radical Marxist party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who in 2016 stated that he was "not calling for the slaughter of white people — at least for now." Malema and his followers currently hold only 25 of the 400 seats in the South African National Assembly, yet his motion was backed by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), whose leader, newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa, had earlier pledged to pursue a policy of "radical economic transformation" that will speed up expropriation of land without compensation — taking land from white farmers and giving it to black South Africans.
Although cloaked by the term “land reform” and vague promises that the wholesale expropriation would be managed by the government in a way that would not damage South Africa’s economy, the rhetoric and policy are nearly identical to that used by former president Robert Mugabe to implement Zimbabwe's disastrous land redistribution program in the 1980s. There, white farms were forcibly occupied, their owners driven off, and many murdered, raped, and tortured. Millions of black farm workers were left without employment and reduced to starvation. Zimbabwe was once so rich in agricultural production that it was a major food exporter, dubbed the "bread basket" of Southern Africa, yet within five years the country was unable to feed its people.
The confiscation resolution has accelerated attacks on white owned farms throughout South Africa. Over the past 12 months, more than 90 white farmers were killed in 340 attacks, making farming more dangerous than being a police officer. Immediately after the parliamentary vote, EFF thugs occupied white-owned farms across the country, murdering, raping, and beating the occupants (including black workers to "teach them a lesson about cooperating with the criminals who stole our land").
While the amendment ostensibly targets agricultural properties (which will include iconic wine farms and private wild game preserves that are a major contributor to the SA economy), it may eventually be extended to residences given the widespread housing crisis and envy of the "haves" by the "have nots." Other assets, including artwork, shares in public companies, and private businesses, are also being considering for nationalization.
What is behind such a policy? South Africa’s general elections will be held in 2019 and the ANC is returning to its Socialist roots to keep its grip on power. The EFF — formerly the ANC’s Youth Wing — is gaining ground in the poorest communities as Malema (who lives in the exclusive Johannesburg suburb of Sandton and drives a BMW) exploits the resentment and ignorance of the masses. South Africa has a 53 percent youth unemployment rate and an official unemployment rate of black workers. This constituency believes the empty promises of the Far Left and rhetoric that their lot in life is purely due to the white minority (less than 8 percent of the population) rather than the government’s massive corruption and inefficiency. The overwhelming support by ANC parliamentary members for Malema’s confiscation motion demonstrates that a de facto ANC-EFF alliance exists, and further radicalism can be expected.
Any other country that officially targeted a racial minority for confiscation of property and vicious racist abuse (Malema stated earlier this year "We are starting with this whiteness. We are cutting the throat of whiteness") would arouse the pious wrath of the global elites and immediate calls for sanctions. Thousands of white South African farmers have petitioned Australia and other countries for political asylum claiming that they face ethnic cleansing and persecutions at the hands of the ANC government, the EFF, and various groups that seek their liquidation and to appropriate their property. Yet — with a few brave exceptions such as Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who is considering a fast track visa program for 10,000 South African farmers and their families — the world is ignoring the growing humanitarian and economic crisis, choosing to believe that the “Rainbow Nation” envisioned by the late Nelson Mandela is still a benign place, and that “land reform” is justified to right historical wrongs.
Ultimately, the very people who will suffer for the misguided revenge policies of the South African government will be the millions of poor black people they claim to be helping. As in Zimbabwe, persecuted white farmers will leave and build new lives, yet ordinary black citizens will suffer even higher unemployment, famine, and civil chaos while a once great country sinks into an economic morass.
Timothy Ashby, PhD, JD, MBA, is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and is currently CEO of Pembury Capital, Inc.
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