By Maynard Manyowa
One of the most hotly contested issues in contemporary South Africa is the issue of the land. It is one of most central boiling points in a volatile nation that threatens to tip over, under immense pressure from disenfranchised black populaces, under brutal siege from far left fascist movements like EFF and COPE, and underwhelmed by massive maladministration from shamelessly corrupt ANC governance.
One of the most dangerous and simultaneously unfortunate characteristics of the current malaise is the sense of entitlement fueled my mass misinformation. Indeed, it is from that, that the land issue has become a scapegoat for the ANC, a populist ticket for the EFF, and an excuse for bad governance and poor delivery from the government.
It is well known fact that South Africa suffers under the strain of unequal wealth distribution, and skewed economic playing fields, but it is unknown fact that privilege is not a white only thing, in the same way evil imperialist monopoly capital is not a white only thing.
That the differences and absurdities in wealth distribution continue to be erroneously labelled and classified by colour 21 years after apartheid is the greatest tragedy since Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
That the general population and indeed some intellectuals can be hoodwinked into believing the current status quo is the architecture of racist capital is the stuff of Legend.
Honesty in intellectual discourses is a prerequisite lest confusion will substitute reason and ignorance will be the order of the day. In this notion, the land issue must be debunked before it is addressed.
To begin with, we must understand that, when the blame is syphoned and re-directed towards ‘invisible white monopoly force’, the ANC and indeed its actors that assume the role of state are granted the biggest let off since Jiang Qing, Chairman Mao’s wife was released 10 years into a death sentence commuted to life.
For that very sole reason the ANC will not directly confront the reality about the land issue, more specifically its history. For if it were addressed, and people were informed about the correct context of the Colonisation, Imperialism and Apartheid, the ANC would be left in a very uncomfortable position, where they would have to answer for their wrongs with no excuse, no scapegoat, and no one to shoulder the blame.
Given the mirage of false blame, at one point or another, a party like EFF was always going to spring from the ashes and threaten to become one of the biggest far left movements in the entire country. For with such a culture of ignorant but calculated blame, someone was always going to threaten to go radical and whip up the masses.
It is human nature that people easily get angry when they are repeatedly told that a certain group is responsible for their suffering. It is such anger that inspired the struggle to end colonial domination all across Africa to begin with.
That Julius Malema and the EFF have found within such a volatile status quo a playground to settle political scores and direct their ambitions is not surprising because it is opportunistically human. History dictates so, and South Africa is at the foot of it, repeating it, again.
I suppose the question becomes where to next? Well, as mentioned earlier, for us to be able to settle the land issue in any degree, and with any success, we must be honest about the history of the land issue, and colonisation itself.
At a most elementary level, we must accept that, the notion that 40, 000 white people control 80% of the land in South Africa is false, improbable and impossible.
We must understand that such a perpetuated falsehood serves to benefit the ANC, and true to that end the government till this day refuses to engage in a race based land audit, which would put to rest the issue.
Nonethless, there are strong indications of sound evidence that challenge the 80%-whites hypothesis. The ‘non-racial’ state land audit, carried out by the office of South Africa’s Chief Surveyor-General and published in 2013 found that 79% of South Africa’s landmass was in private hands, not necessarily white, or black hands.
It found that this land was and is owned by individuals, companies and trusts and includes all urban real estate as well as agricultural and mining land in South Africa. It would be mathematically and practically impossible given such findings for ‘white people’ to own 80% of the land.
Therefore, according to Mmuso Riba, the Chief Surveyor-General, “there is no basis” for the claim that whites own 80% of South Africa.
It is understandable that such a truth hurts to confront, seeing is, the land issue is a very sensitive and emotional topic, but if it must be solved satisfactorily, honest presentation of facts and data is necessary.
I will keep reiterating that it is important that we remain brutally honest with each other if we are to stop our nation from descending into incredible and less than spectacular levels of hatred and poverty. To this notion, colonisation on its own is not and ought not to be a ticket to entitlement.
Much as it sounds insensitive, we must not run the risk of allowing ourselves as blacks to be defined by a false perpetual victim mentality. It is true that colonisation, like slavery is a dark travesty committed unto out forefathers, but it is childish to act as if we are super entitled victims.
Yes, colonial times were horrible, and apartheid was bad. But it was not a white only thing, neither was it a unique version of exploitation. White people cannot and must not inherit labels of racism, based on the actions of their forefathers.
It is important that we remember, that as black Africans, colonisation, expansion and domination was our way of life. The Zulu colonized and conquered more land in South Africa and beyond, and in brutal unrepentant fashion for that matter.
As the powerful Zulu war machine expanded the Zulu Empire would maim and kill most of the men and take the land, women and cattle (all seen as property) of surrounding lands.
Many of those who were conquered were taken into or sold into slavery. To anyone who opposed the Zulu Empire, retribution was harsh. Retaliation was almost genocidal in its brutality with infanticide a common practice.
Entire cultures, nations and tribes were to be destroyed or exterminated from the pages of history by the Zulu Impi.
Those were times defined by bloodshed, but should all other ethnicities hold that against them today? The answer is No, and should remain No, even when ethnicity is substituted for race.
The brutality of the Zulu empire ended several years ago, and so have colonial times. We must learn from the past but that must not slow our progression for the future. If we continue to judge peoples of today by historical figures and events of the past, there will not be a single one of us who does not have an ancestor with blood on their hands.
There is not a single human being alive today that is not the result of colonization, migrations and expansions by their ancestors. None of us has a history that could pass today’s much higher morality standards.
It is quite clear that we need to confront our problems openly and with honest sincerity, no matter how hurtful that may be.
Things need to change, but as long as we keep making scapegoats out of invisible forces and excusing those responsible for effecting that change, we allow our leaders to live in R250 million houses, and fly on R4billion private jets, while blaming the wrong people.
Enough said, This Is Africa!
- News24 Voices