Land — Mr Ramaphosa must be clear in pronouncements: Be a statesman during ANC celebrations and the visit to Davos — not an ideologist
11 January 2017
Is it really necessary for the newly elected president of the ANC (and possibly future president of South Africa) to be so reckless with statements about land? The statements made in the last days cannot be taken lightly. We urgently need clarity because their implications are enormous.
Demands for free tertiary education have plunged this sector in a crisis and Mr Zuma's announcement has worsened the situation for both students and tertiary institutions in 2018. Equally unqualified and irresponsible statements on land issues will add to the woes of an already uncertain sector.
Expropriation without compensation and the uncertainty brought on by recent pronouncements will set us back to the initial negotiations for a new constitution. Mr Ramaphosa was instrumental in those negotiations and he should remember the spirit and intent of the negotiators and the parties involved. He should therefore be reminded of the basis taken from international examples and internationally recognised principles such as property rights. Rhetoric or unilateral twisted history and ideology are in conflict with these principles.
The country knows that Mr Ramaphosa is caught right in the middle in a party fighting for political survival and being desperate to remain in power. South Africa has been exposed to catastrophic leadership in government for some years now and Mr Ramaphosa could return some measure of balance by exercising responsible leadership. Talks about land expropriation without compensation could have disastrous repercussions. Land ownership has become a smouldering time bomb largely due to a party and government unwilling to listen or accept solutions and meaningful suggestions over many years. Instead, incompetent officials, incapable departments and ministers have allowed the situation to deteriorate. Those responsible are unwilling to acknowledge failures but rather cowardly hide and camouflage such mistakes by means of racially-based accusations used to defend distorted history, false perceptions and untruths. In so doing policy uncertainty has been created and impatience is allowed to fester on both sides. Enough is enough.
Land redistribution is a reality that has been accepted in South Africa and it is true that there have been some measure of success. Being black in South Africa, however, does not give one any exclusive rights to land. Mr Ramaphosa's announcements, willing or unwilling, in this regard are apparently an effort to appease some factions promoting such ideas. The distribution of land to people of the right skin colour, but not necessarily being productive farmers, only contributes to greater poverty.
The question to Mr Ramaphosa that begs an answer is whether the current white owners of land are not also ‘his people’? Recent statements by various politicians deny a white South African any place in the African sun.
Populist leaders often rely on creating perceptions by means of false pronouncements and rhetoric. These people shirk away from taking responsibility when there are dire consequences; they are romantic revolutionaries who are in reality betraying South Africa and its peoples.
Mr Ramaphosa can choose whether he wants to be part of this particular faction or whether he wants to act out the greater and more responsible leadership of a true statesman. His speeches and pronouncements in the coming days will answer this question. He will be tested on whether he uses the ANC's birthday celebration in East London to display leadership and statesmanship when leading the SA delegation to the 48th World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
We have already made contact with Mr Ramaphosa's office with a request for a meeting to discuss these and other issues of concern.
Issued by Jan Bosman, Chief Secretary, Die Afrikanerbond, 11 January 2018