The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, has announced that South Africa’s government is planning to take away white-owned farms and redistribute them to blacks, a move which Zimbabweans are familiar with as the land resettlement program.
The party has said it will fast track the process by allowing the state to seize land without the owner’s consent, a move which will upset a status cue where the area was/is predominantly in white hands two decades after the end of apartheid. President Jacob Zuma is still expected to sign the bill into law soon.
Nkwinti said that the process needs to be accelerated, to rectify past wrongs and provide opportunities to the previously excluded, a move which is undoubtedly inspired by the local elections set for August and aims at garnering support for the South African ruling African National Congress (ANC), “In South Africa, you have a concentration of land ownership in the hands of a few people. That is something we have to correct,”
Concerned economists and farmers who spoke to News Of The South said that the move could have devastating implications on production and investments. They said that this is not what South Africa needs at a time when the country is battling with a significant drought.
One farmer, said, “This is bound to insight not only violence but investor pullout and poor production. People will run for the land just for ownership and not production. This is the same predicament that Zimbabwe ran into. Now they import almost everything because the guys who took the land are sitting on it.”
Although South Africa government says that the redistribution process is not going to be like Zimbabwe’s encounter, the claim is hard to maintain as the circumstances are just too similar. More so, 30 years ago, the government passed a law to prohibit the subdivision of land because farms were becoming too small. This law is still active, making it more difficult and likely to raise eyebrows.