New South African President Cyril Ramaphosa came to the Presidency promising “a new dawn” and that “this is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions”. The rampant corruption in the South African government is what had forced his predecessor Jacob Zuma out of office by his own ruling African National Congress (ANC). During Zuma’s Presidency the South African economy had also been on a steady decline.
However one of the biggest issues in South Africa, news of which has slowly seeped into the outside world is the persecution and murder of its white farmers. A recent change in leadership in neighboring Zimbabwe saw former President Robert Mugabe’s land reform policy which had evicted white farmers from their land reworked by new President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He directed that all remaining white farmers be issued with 99-year leases for their properties in an effort to revive the decedent Zimbabwean economy which can be attributed to land reform. Although Mnangagwa has ruled out returning land to already evicted white farmers.
Many were wondering whether a change of leadership would bring about the same change in policy in regard to white farmers in South Africa which was to seize land from them without compensation. However Cyril Ramaphosa has stated he will continue the policy but claims it will not be a “smash and grab” and that “We will handle it with responsibility. We will handle it in a way that will not damage our economy, that is not going to damage agricultural production”. He believes “in dealing with this complex matter” South Africa would not “make the mistakes that others have made.”
The experience so far would suggest otherwise. Vigilante South African gangs have taken upon themselves to force white farmers off their lands engaging in violent assaults, robbery, torture, rape and even murder. Statistical analyses has shown that a white farmer is 4 times more likely to be murdered than the average South African (in a nation which has one of the highest crime rates in the world). At the last count 72 white farmers had been murdered in 2017 with 340 farm attacks in total with an attack on average occurring every day.
These farm attacks have partly been inspired by the rhetoric of the nation’s politicians. Members of the ANC and the radical Economic Freedom Fighters Party have sung the incitement to genocide song “Shoot the Farmer, Kill the Boer”. Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters Julius Malema has been convicted of hate speech and recently stated that whites would not be slaughtered “for now”.
In effort to take revenge against their white oppressors during the apartheid era not only is the South African government enabling crimes against humanity but it is signing the nation’s economic death warrant. Redistribution of assets from the perceived rich landowning class to the masses has never proven to be the key to prosperity.
It is worth highlighting that the land these white farmers are perceived to have stolen from the native blacks have been in their families since the 1600s, over the four centuries since they have helped feed an often famine ravaged continent. It can be hardly viewed as a just redistribution.
For all of Ramaphosa’s talk of a gentle transfer of land a new clean era for South Africa the most likely scenario is the persecution of and violence against white farmers will continue.