SO MUCH has been written about land reform, that I want to list a few loose ends. Some questions have not been answered - yet. One good thing is that people are talking
First, can a farmer lose all of his or her land? Or only 25% or 50%?
In countries in the northern hemisphere, they don’t understand “state capture”; they speak of “state larceny” - when tax rates exceed 50%. When government skims off more of what you earn, taxpayers get angry. No one has put a ceiling on expropriation.
Except perhaps Cosatu, which has indicated that no politicians should be eligible for re-distributed land. This shows citizens are thinking about how it will work.
Now, can somebody address the issue of capping the proportion of land taken from any one farmer?
Second, is there a co-ownership model that can be more inclusive, without shaking the nation’s food security too much? Our flag has two lines merging into one. Can we do that with farming somehow?
Third, can political parties (and other actors) commit to non-violence in the roll-out of land reform? Some sound abrasive, like the EFF. Others more conciliatory, like the ANC.
Yet even internally, the ANC has voices like the Thabo Mbeki Foundation paper that surfaced, saying the ANC’s commitment to non-racialism has been tarnished.
And the tribal chiefs seem to be beating the drums of war, even more so than the boers. This could lead to confrontation or “partition” (like India and Pakistan), instead of rapprochement. Not all Afrikaner voices are intransigent; there is a sense of recognition that a Year of Jubilee is inevitable, even needed.
Fourth, with a track record of land claims that is so slow, can we trust the same ruling alliance to suddenly speed it up land reform? Would it not be better to establish a non-partisan multi-lateral process to handle land re-distribution? They say “a politician only thinks of the next election, but a statesman thinks of the next generation”.
Is the ANC’s sudden concern about speeding up land reform just pre-election posturing? Land reform is way too important to leave in the hands of mere politicians. Let’s put it in the hands of statesmen and women.
Fifth, they say opposites attract. The 2019 elections look like a three-way race - between the red, blue with yellow in the middle - that no one can win outright. Coalitions are the order of the day.
This raises the prospect of a blue and red coalition to push out the ruling party. Coalitions in our big metros have proved to be unhappy marriages,.
The success formula could be in the double-jeopardy of jobs and land. Which do we need more? Under ANC leadership, the economy is still shedding jobs. Perhaps we need a coalition with a dual mandate - job creation and agrarian land reform. So there is one thing that a blue-red coalition can actually agree on. Both the DA and the EFF want to get citizens working again.
The EFF is focusing on agrarian land reform. The DA wants to energise the informal sector and small business - sectors that create the most jobs. Whereas the ANC’s approach of make-work programmes is just a quick fix not sustainable in the long run. The key to unlock prosperity is getting citizens to be economically active - not hooked on hand-outs and not just cash-for-work infrastructure programmes. Business.
The last loose end - what about the Ba Boroa (the Khoi-San)? This is a genocidal omission. The blacks complain their land was “stolen” by whites. The Ba Boroa say it was their land in the first place, stolen by blacks and whites.
Any solution must address this issue of our aboriginal people.
Stephens is the executive director for the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership and writes in his personal capacity