INTEGRITY OF PROCESS UNDER SUSPICION WITH DISHONEST POINTS OF DEPARTURE
- THE GOVERNMENT AND ANC PLAY THE BIGGEST RACE CARD SINCE APARTHEID
Due to the present government’s inability to finalise Land Reform in the spirit of the negotiated settlement, this issue has now become a political football which is getting out of hand. It is being abused for political power, ideological agendas and other obscure motives.
The mere fact that the talks about land and the attempt to change the Constitution are based on a new racial foundation, on warping and changing the Constitution, and on lies and perceptions instead of facts, is cause for concern about the motive and could hold far-reaching consequences.
The talks about land and reform have now simply become a political football because the statements being made do not correspond with the facts available. Various commentators and particularly economists have long expressed their concern that the fear of losing an election would force the ANC to promote populist statements and policy frameworks in an attempt to retain key voters.
Economic realities, including downgraded credit ratings, the lack of growth, stubbornly high unemployment and the enormous harm done to South Africa with state capture, corruption and lack of service delivery, have all contributed to the perception that the government is not serious about a successful and sustainable economic model.
From the outset, there were warnings that expropriation without compensation and a change in certain sections of the Constitution would have unforeseen and disastrous consequences. Unfortunately, the superficial assurances that the economy should not be harmed, fall far too short. The reality is that the economy is already staggering under shortcomings and policy uncertainties.
The sudden about-face over the land under the control of traditional leaders increases the pressure inside the political pressure-cooker and creates even more uncertainty and even more polarisation. Commentators justly point out that this increases the potential to “warp the greater reform issues.”
A huge fuss has recently been made about the public participation process. More than 700 000 submissions and comments have been submitted to parliament, and thousands of South Africans have attended the public meetings which began in June, when further comment could be made about the possible amendment of the property clause in the Constitution to make it possible to expropriate land without compensation.
This campaign was mainly driven by the ANC and the EFF who placed property rights and ownership on an altar as an election gimmick. They dismissed as “racial rhetoric” the initial objections to the assumptions aimed at justifying the processes, namely the “theft of land” and untrustworthy land audits.
In the process, punch-drunk South Africans are being led like lambs to the slaughter. The sudden about-face and assurances that traditional land would not be affected are difficult to digest and we must accept that the ANC and the government rely heavily in this entire process on the last trump card, namely race.
The biggest racially driven process since apartheid, namely the expropriation of land without compensation on a racial basis, seems inevitable. Renewed racial division based on us and them, far removed from the spirit of the acceptance of the Constitution, is the consequence of the past few days of one-sided remarks and assurances to traditional leaders. The deeply rooted hate and urge for retribution which the EFF began, have been taken over indiscriminately by the ANC for the sake of short-term political survival.
During our recent Bondsraad on 7 June 2018, President Ramaphosa said: “If well handled, land reform will help bind the nation together and produce benefits for everyone. If badly managed, it will simply re-distribute resentment, damage the economy and destroy social peace. If not undertaken at all, the country will remain divided at its heart.”
The sudden about-face in the assurances to traditional leaders that their land would not be affected (close to 13 619 421 ha is now being left out of any talks) is a poor beginning for talks about land ownership. The other more urgent aspect which these assurances give to traditional leaders is that the land would never be considered for giving to poor and deserving people immediate access, security of tenure and registering title deeds to the land.
Millions of South Africans who currently live on traditional land are being deprived of ownership of the land. This would have a significant impact on their quality of life. Clearly, the ANC government is not honest about its attempts to ensure more and greater ownership of land.
We must now ask ourselves whether continued participation in these processes has not already been compromised, since it is clear that decisions have already been taken or are being taken on an ad hoc basis. The comprehensive submissions and proposals that have been made as sincere contributions to making South Africa successful, are apparently ignored in private talks and political caucus rooms in order to ensure political survival.
There is no doubt that the Constitution, and the spirit of acceptance of the Constitution, are now in a very fragile condition which could have a negative effect on nation building and social cohesion.
Racially driven expropriation targeting white-owned land will be inevitable unless there is great responsibility and caution in dealing with this issue. However, the actions and remarks of the past few days make us deeply uneasy. Our Constitution, which holds up non-racialism as a value, could become the victim of one of the biggest racially-driven projects ever to see the light of day in the history of our new democracy.
Statement issued by Jaco Schoeman, Chairperson, Afrikanerbond, 10 July 2018