South Africa farm seizures EXPLAINED – The truth about land reform and farm murders

Thursday, August 30, 2018
By Paul Martin

SOUTH Africa is in the midst of a constitutional overhaul to address land reform. But in this complex and sensitive topic, the truth is often hard to find. Here, we speak to an expert to get to the heart of what is really going on.

By KATE WHITFIELD
Express.co.uk
Thu, Aug 30, 2018

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told hundreds of Afrikaners in June that land reforms don’t need to be seen as a threat, or “as a reason to pack up and go … The future of the Afrikaner is intrinsically linked to the prosperity of the country as a whole”.

But after news of the reforms led to international reports of white farmers being murdered, Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton said white South African farmers who wanted to migrate to Australia “deserve special attention” and “help from a civilised country like ours” due to the “horrific circumstances” of land seizures and violence.

Then this month, US President Donald Trump tweeted that the US would “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers”. But UK Prime Minister Theresa May dismissed those comments this week in a trip to the country, where she said the UK “supported land reform in South Africa that will be a legal, transparent and democratic process.”

This confusion and mixed rhetoric on the subject has dominated the political, public and private spheres over the past few weeks in particular, but the contested topic has its roots deep in the country’s history.

What is the history of the issue?
The pattern of land distribution in South Africa can be traced back to the Natives Land Act 1913.

The law allocated only seven percent of arable land to the black population, leaving the more fertile land to the whites.

It created reserves (segregated living spaces) for black people, resulting in a long legacy of forced removals and millions of black people living in under-serviced slums, which still exist today.

The apartheid parliament said the Land Act was passed to limit friction between black and while populations, but the resulting societal shift saw the majority of the black population forced to work as labourers for whites.

The result of this is still evident in modern-day South Africa.

Speaking to express.co.uk, South African Professor Ruth Hall from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies for the University of the Western Cape, said: “Remember that South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world.

“Even more than 24 years into democracy we remain a deeply racially divided society so land reform is an imperative that must be addressed.”

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