They have sold their fable of a genocide from an equally fictitious government policy to seize their land and murder their kin. Unsurprisingly, their counterparts from across various ponds, including some wearing strange white bedsheets and cone-shaped headgear, have bought this narrative hook, line and sinker.
The irony is that some of the proponents of the fake news rhetoric have flown off the cuff in support of victims of an imaginary genocide from a Fox News report that could only be described as bad fiction. It all seemed like satire until the sitting President of the US proclaimed it as something his Secretary of State needed to pay attention to.
Afriforum, the broadcasters of the distress call, celebrated at the chime of the mid-morning tweet from President Trump because it indicated their legitimacy in the highest power circles in the world.
Quite a shame that lobby groups and journalistic integrity (or lack thereof) could gain traction on outdated, racially-motivated allegiances, when South Africans and Americans of all races face profound challenges that are all but ignored by these groups. Instead, hate and intolerance are perpetuated for narrow-minded, bigoted ends.
Possibly a warning from our neighbours in Zimbabwe and those poor folks in Orania that rallying power along racial lines ends in isolation and backlash that benefits no one, but instead creates a rift that is almost impossible to mend.
Sanity prevailed in Australia when the former minister of immigration, Phillip Ruddock, responded to the motion for their Federal Council to grant special visas to white South African farmers, stating that singling out race as a condition of special treatment goes against what Australia stands for. He stated that all displaced people have an application process to get assistance from Australia, but this motion sought to override that process and put this group, based on race, at the top of the list, without going through objective consideration by Australian officials.
Julie Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Minister, explained that Australia monitors the rate of violent crime in South Africa and there has been no evidence of any spike or targeting of ethnic groups in recent years.
The Russians, in stark contrast, are considering letting South African farmers settle on a piece of land that they’ve been giving away to Russians in the land giveaway programme since 2014, for a $100000 (R1.5million) lease per family, according to RT.com.
This seems like more of a profit-making scheme for Russia than helping asylum seekers. As a further sweetener for the Russians, the deal is that the white farmers are bringing some much-needed agrarian skills that will no doubt lift the sector in the Stavropol region. No official word from the Kremlin has been released regarding this agreement.
Trump’s Twitter outburst about racially-motivated killing and seizures of white farms was largely unattended until the US Embassy in Pretoria sent a cable to Washington, practically rubbishing all of the president’s remarks, using current statistics on farm murders, which have actually decreased, and addressing the land seizures claim. The South African Presidency invited the diplomatic corps to address a number of issues, including the one on land reform in the country, and reassured them that the “process will be undertaken in an orderly manner that advances economic development”.
The truth is that South Africa has a crime problem, and it is a national crisis, meaning it affects everyone of all races.
Another truth is that South Africa comes from a history of a state-sanctioned system of discrimination that outlawed black people from owning property for the benefit of white people. Today those beneficiaries will use anything in their power to resist the corrective measures the government uses to disassemble that very system and the outcomes of it.
Crying wolf and distorting crime statistics is what was required to have an already simmering pot of neo-fascists in the likes of Trump’s US, Brexit UK and others that support nationalism on racial/ethnical lines, to jump on the genocide bandwagon. But more sober minds have rebutted, with some much-required logic and reason, that South Africa still has a robust rule of law, a functioning democratic state and a free media.
How, then, can they be keeping a genocide hidden while violently expropriating land without compensation, Viking-style? The reality is that it is being approached systematically and consultatively to ensure that every South African’s constitutional rights are vehemently protected, and without a drop of blood shed.
Monyae is a senior political analyst based at the University of Johannesburg