Wednesday, June 12, 2013

(THOUGHTLEADER SA) Selling Malema’s farm to a white person an insult to blacks
Malaika Wa Azania
Posted by: Malaika Wa Azania
Posted on: June 11, 2013

It is with absolute rage that I write this article. The news of the auctioning off of comrade Julius Malema’s farm signals more than just another chapter in the tragic story of the former president of the ANCYL’s political downfall.

It signals a tragic legitimisation of a historical injustice against black people; an injustice that continues to devour the little bit of dignity that we have left in the face of the onslaught of white monopoly capital.

According to reports by Business Day, Malema’s cabbage and tomato farm in Limpopo was auctioned for R2.5 million on Monday. It is reported that bidding for the 140ha farm, worth R4 million, had started at R800 000. The uncontested bid was made by Callie Calitz of Wencor Holdings, a Polokwane-based cattle rearing and meat dealership.

The farm was seized by the assets forfeiture unit in March, believing that it was proceeds of crime resulting from a tender awarded to a business belonging to comrade Malema’s business associate, Lesiba Gwangwa, by the provincial roads and transport department. The farm was owned by Gwama Properties (Pty) Ltd, whose director is Gwangwa, a co-accused with Malema in the money-laundering and money-racketeering case. However, the case has not been decided as the issue of the multimillion-rand tender is still the subject of courts. As such, it is presumptuous for the media and public courts of opinion to want to project Malema as guilty.

This auctioning of comrade Malema’s farm comes during the month when we mark the centenary of South Africa’s June 19 1913 Natives Land Act, an act which provided a crucial legal foundation for the consolidation of race and class segregation in the country, well before the establishment of the apartheid regime in 1948. The 1913 Natives Land Act left only about 8% of South Africa’s territory to blacks, who at the time represented about 90% of the country’s population. The Native Trust and Land Act of 1936 released additional land and increased the portion of land accessible to blacks to about 13% of the country. These legislations confined the black population to reserves and Bantustans, where land tenure and farming practices were mainly communal. Other measures restricted land tenancy or sharecropping for black populations living on land owned by white farmers. The result of these policies was the monopolisation of land by whites and the elimination of the black peasantry. For most blacks, the only remaining livelihood alternative consisted therefore of providing cheap labour to the commercial farming, industry and mining sectors (Haines and Cross, 1988; Walker, 2005).

Since coming into power in 1994, the ANC has promised to prioritise the land question, which it correctly identifies as the fundamental struggle in the country. The 1994 Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) set a specific target of redistributing 30% of agricultural land. The 1997 White Paper on South African Land Policy elaborated in addition to this programme of land redistribution, also one of restitution and tenure reform. Restitution aims to restore rights in land to people who were dispossessed of them since 1913, through return of that land or another form of compensation. But president Zuma recently informed us that the 2014 deadline of shifting one-third of the country’s land from white farmers to black residents has been postponed to 2025. We are now sitting with the reality that only 8% of agricultural land (or 26% of the target) has been released to rightful beneficiaries through both the land restitution and redistribution programmes.

But this is not the only problem that we are facing. The fact that we are still using the willing-buyer, willing-seller approach, which depends on voluntary market transactions, has led to another setback in the quest to address the burning land question in the country.

Firstly, the progress of land reform is hampered by limited involvement of beneficiaries, commercial farmers (majority of them white), or municipalities in planning, initiating, and managing the process. As a result, farms go unused, reducing levels of productivity.

Secondly, while black applicants are awarded grants by the government to enter the land market, these are limited in value.

And lastly, many white land owners have expressed strong opposition to selling to black land reform beneficiaries and no action is taken against them as all transactions are required only by policy rather than law, to be voluntary. What this effectively means is that white land owners are protected by the law against selling land or even having it expropriated, perpetuating a situation where black people are landless in their own country.

In the situation of comrade Malema, he had control of land on which there was maximum production of tomatoes and cabbages, two staple foods for many working-class black people who can barely afford the kind of meat which Vencor Holdings sells. And maybe there were grounds for the farm being sold off to recuperate the money the comrade owes, because I can never legitimise the comrade’s failure to pay taxes, which are used for social development. But a process should have been employed which would ensure that this land is sold to black-run land co-operatives, which would use it effectively and primarily for the benefit of the working-class poor. My problem is that this land was auctioned off to the same white people from whom we are trying to claim more land, rightfully so, for our people. But worse than that, it was sold at almost HALF of its market value! So not only have white people stolen land from us; they can now even buy it for half what it is worth at auctions after it has been taken from black people.

This is also why I am against title deed reform only. The banks will end up owning most of the land, as most startups fail, usually due to lack of capitalisation. Zimbabwe land reform is the only way to go. Unless someoen can come up with a better model, which I doubt. - MrK

The narrow-minded triumphalists who hate comrade Malema are celebrating “his” demise. But this is not a spit in his face; it is a spit in the faces of all black people and our struggle against white supremacy. And to the sound of black cheers, white monopoly capital has won!

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