Friday, April 17, 2009

(NEWZIMBABWE FORUMS) Zuma has duty to ‘Africanise’ South Africa

Zuma has duty to ‘Africanise’ South Africa
Posted By Joram Nyathi
17 Apr, 2009 at 11:11 am

LAST week, I watched on TV a debate on land reform between South Africa’s four main political parties contesting next week’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Those represented were the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, the Pan African Congress and Congress of the People.

Listening to the DA and the FFP’s arguments, I was dismayed that they reject even the principle, not just the methodology, of land reform. They believe they represent the chosen race to save the continent as farm owners. To them, land reform means Zimbabwe, another word for disaster.

They cannot draw positive lessons from Zimbabwe’s failure to plan, and adopt a full spectrum response infused with a creative empathy. This would entail a programme of gradual skills transfer and training, provision of capital and infrastructure and abundance of inputs such as seed and fertiliser.

Instead, they are stonewalling and raising the bogey of investor flight, reduced productivity and hunger. One can’t miss the implied racial slur about Africans’ innate “unfitness” to govern. That is why poor “Africans” can see a Moses in a badly flawed character like Zuma.

Many whites in South Africa own land by right of colonial conquest. The government seeking restitution must pay full market prices.

The debate exposed one thing: away from his personal legal woes about corruption, money-laundering and racketeering, a Jacob Zuma presidency faces resistance from resurgent, combative right wing forces; the same forces which last year celebrated the removal of Thabo Mbeki for “abusing power” and undermining state institutions. This was despite Mbeki, for all his black economic empowerment drive, leaving white capital’s enclave economy virtually intact since 1994.

These forces remain rooted in the colonial mould. It is possible Zuma misread their motive in his battles with Mbeki; they had their own bigger war with Mbeki for not dislodging President Robert Mugabe. He either feared or actively protected Mugabe, they charged, and Mugabe was setting a bad example by seizing white farms.

The truth must be dawning on Zuma. Whatever other grievances they had against Mbeki, this had nothing to do with love for Zuma or poor blacks.

But now that Mbeki is out of the way, they must confront Zuma and his leftist alliance partners, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party. The alliance poses two threats for whites: land seizure and a destabilising encroachment into the enclave white economy whose architecture qualifies South Africa as a democracy under Western eyes.

It is these fears which now feed the virulent attacks against Zuma. This is the real war for Zuma and South Africa, not tribal animosities being fomented to undermine the ANC’s focus on land reform.

To remain friends with the neo-liberal, Zuma would have to jettison the ANC’s alliance partners and, by extension, the foundation of his political legitimacy — poor South Africans for whom the 15 years of “majority” rule have been a “dream deferred”. That option is not only suicidal but almost impossible given the cross-party leadership linkages of the alliance.

As happened in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, South Africa today faces the dilemma of political liberation — failing to amicably resolve the colonial property ownership conundrum because of the hypocrisy of those who preach property rights only after they finish looting.

Rights derived from colonial conquest are elevated to the level of inalienable rights even as we are being told to forget about the past. Nobody deigns to explain just how white farmers came by this disproportionate land ownership to which liberation veterans like Zuma are a constant bugbear. Should I ascribe this to the “native intelligence” of colonists?

Whites seized land by conquest. The principle is that possession is 90% ownership. Let it not be forgotten that it took the force of arms for the colonialists to acknowledge black political rights in the teeth of red-clawed resistance. But the new ideology is to disparage those who provided the guns and promote the fantasy that many of those who opposed our political independence are the selfless custodians of our human rights. That is why we are being made to feel that the concept of national sovereignty is anathema in a global village.

We have had a lot of crocodile tears shed here in Zimbabwe about the rights of farm workers. Yet not all white farmers wanted to share land or any of their fabulous wealth with those who produced it. The black person, it may be argued, is still viewed exclusively as a provider of labour just as in the poor southern states of the United States before 1865, and never as a potential entrepreneur on the land.

A British journalist wistfully summed up the anxiety of whites after Zuma won the ANC presidency in Polokwane in December 2007. He said the cheap lifestyle British tourists were used to in South Africa “was under threat”. Zuma was a communist and going to “Africanise the country”, wailed the journalist. What’s the reverse of Africanise?

Will Zuma have the courage to give to the poor 30% of the land by 2014 as promised by the ANC? I hope he does.

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