Storm clouds gather over South African land reform
Chido analyzes an article that appeared in the BBC talking about how land, farming, politics, and race collide in South Africa. He reminds us that land is a rather touchy subject not just in Zimbabwe, but for the most part across Sub Saharan Africa. Ultimately, his article calls for increased awareness on the part of all South Africans as to what one should expect as a farmer in South Africa.
A recent BBC report says land reform in South Africa "is going badly wrong."
It juxtaposes the expectations of black South Africans eagerly hoping for a chance to own land and the fears of white landowners who are convinced the ANC government is bent on disposessing them alà Zimbabwe.
At the end of apartheid in 1994 the 10% minority white population owned nearly 90% of the land. The ANC has failed to meet its own target to have 30% of commercial agricultural land in black hands by 2014.
"Land is a source of life," says a black aspiring farmer in the BBC report. "When we were dispossessed and driven away from the land we felt shame and our children looked down on us. Land reform is a victory for us Africans in terms of social prestige and dignity." He feels cheated that more has not been achieved in this regard by the ANC government.
But is the idea of land "restitution" as a matter of sentimentality, "of social prestige and dignity" appropriate for the economic needs of today?
White farmer Theo De Jager dismisses this with, "If we want to feed 50 million people in this country, then we need to think differently about land. People will die of hunger if we keep saying we must give land back to those people who roamed here 150 years ago. They're not farmers today."
De Jager says a farm he owned and that was "claimed" for sale under a land reform scheme he says he was once enthusiastic about now lies in ruins because of neglect and vandalism under its black owners.