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Some comments on South Africa's land expropriation bill being passed (OC)

Submitted by Tequila_Wolf in Decolonisation (edited )

What I understand of the situation at the moment:

SA parliament passed a bill to expropriate without compensation. In terms of what's actually occurred, I think all this means is that they've agreed to talk about it, and begin a long bureaucratic journey of law-passing.

The EFF, local populist radical party have been pushing for this to happen for some time, and the declining ANC has lost some minimal public support to them because of this. The ANC allowing for this to be tabled basically squashes the reason for people to vote EFF instead of ANC.
The ANC has heavily amended the version of the original EFF bill.

Even if this plan goes through, it just implies that some farmland will be taken. Not that anybody will be deported or that whites won't be allowed in South Africa. Racist whites have been pushing ridiculous narratives like this since before apartheid ended, spurred on especially by racist interpretations of the expropriation of land in Zimbabwe under Mugabe, but surprisingly also just the same kind of stuff you see everywhere (white genocide, etc.). Whiteness is so intense in South Africa that whites generally have no sense of what is happening outside of their white bubbles, so they fill that gap with a phantasmagoria of racist garbage. This is why many have left South Africa for English-speaking predominantly white countries for decades.

Currently farmland is in massive disproportion owned by whites. This is despite whites being about 8% of the population. The injustice is clear, even before the long and devastating talk about how the land was brutally wrenched from the peoples inhabiting it prior.

Further injustice is the whole idea of nationalisation of the land - not just for the obvious reason that people would need to trust the State with the land it takes, but because they've already failed at it, given that approximately 21% of South Africa is already state-owned, and the state has a whole lot they could have done already with that land to help people. This land seems conspicuously outside of the debate being had.

In the meanwhile, there have been remarkable movements like Abahlali BaseMjondolo, a landless people's movement that uses direct action to collectively move onto and occupy unused land. (because under capitalism in the postcolony, you can actually be landless in the place you are indigenous to)
Of course, South African state-capitalism has been out to murder and dispossess them (despite having what is considered perhaps the best national constitution in the world), and I'm regularly coming across news of Abahlali's members being intimidated, harassed and assassinated or homes being raided and taken apart by cops or the red ants.

It's unfortunate that groups like this don't then have the political support that the land expropriation bill has. Really there's so much that is bad about the distribution of power and ideology here I wouldn't know where to start. So I'll stop here, wondering what it would take to bring white South Africans to the point where they willingly give up the land, which, to me, seems the appropriate thing for them to do. Taking the land in the meanwhile will have to do.

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6

ziq wrote (edited )

wondering what it would take to bring white South Africans to the point where they willingly give up the land

Willingly giving up power and privilege... that's an incredibly rare thing, especially when we're talking about settler-colonists and their offspring. I don't think it'll happen unless they are compensated so well that they can buy citizenship elsewhere.

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therealmidnite wrote

Well, how would you convince "settler-colonists and their offspring" to give up land in the US? And how much would you have to compensate them to "buy citizenship elsewhere"?

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ziq wrote (edited )

Completely different situation. Europeans far outnumber indigenous peoples in that country now (because they successfully genocided them) and SA apartheid lasted into the 90s, so the people who were directly responsible for it are all still reaping the benefits and giving their children their ill begotten gains. Plus, a lot of them want to leave and are asking Trump to let them move to the US.

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therealmidnite wrote

So if white people successfully genocided black people in South Africa, or hid their racist segregation policies under the guise of neoliberalism (as was - and still is being - done in the US) they wouldn't be "settler-colonialists" and wouldn't be directly responsible?

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ziq wrote (edited )

Did I say anything like that? American whites won't be willing to leave and couldn't if they wanted to because there's too many of them. South African whites might be willing. Both because they're a minority, are knowingly complicit in apartheid and thus scared of retaliation from the majority, and because they can conceivably migrate due to their much smaller numbers.

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therealmidnite wrote

You might just as well have... considering that your "solution" requires the "peaceful ethnic redistribution" (I trust you know who coined that term) of four and a half million people, including me, to satisfy your conveniently selective nativism.

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ziq wrote

Willingly giving up power and privilege... that's an incredibly rare thing, especially when we're talking about settler-colonists and their offspring. I don't think it'll happen unless they are compensated so well that they can buy citizenship elsewhere.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

This is true!

At the same time, a part of me is hopeful that they will be able to be exposed enough to the right ideas that the process of returning the land becomes less encumbered at every stage.

Something like, you know how there are standard thoughtless responses that capitalism etc provides people, that people like us can prepare for in anticipation of argument with them? If we can at least get them to a level of understanding so that they aren't doing that, I feel like it'd make a difference.

Couldn't be sure though.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

Separately,

Quite a few whites still retain their European citizenship (together with South African citizenship) - but I don't think anybody has the figures on how many.

One of the remarkable things they did in Mozambique after the war was to tell the whiteys that they were either going to be Mozambican or European. Shitloads of them went back to Portugal and the ones who remained renounced their other citizenships.

Mozambique is probably the most communist country I spend time in. I've seen tourists with two of something expensive be casually asked for one of them by locals - the tourists getting exasperated that they were asked for something of such value and the locals just put off at the idea that they didn't get it.

You can't own land there either, you just lease it for 99 years at a time.

4

ziq wrote

Mozambique is probably the most communist country I spend time in. I've seen tourists with two of something expensive be casually asked for one of them by locals - the tourists getting exasperated that they were asked for something of such value and the locals just put off at the idea that they didn't get it.

Awesome.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

It is! I'm not sure how representative it is of the general rural population, where I saw this.

The cities seem more capitalism as usual.

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therealmidnite wrote

Your understanding is better than most people who would rather talk over us than to us... but it still requires some correction.

The EFF is most certainly a populist party - but there's absolutely nothing radical about them, or even really leftist. (More on them later when I talk about Abahlali BaseMjondolo).

This bill doesn't just affect some farmland - or even only farmland owned by whites. It affects a whole range of land owned by a diverse set of people - from private farmers to tribal trusts. The "deportation of whites" is a narrative that is being pushed outside South Africa, not inside - not even by the home-grown white far-right - because it simply doesn't make sense in an African context.

The "bubbles" a lot of white South Africans live in are no different than the neoliberal ones a lot of white people in the US live in - they simply don't have the luxury of being a "majority" (racial or otherwise) to sustain that bubble without retreating further into it. Counter-narratives that make sense in a South African context are rare, and it must be understood that the vast majority of white South African's understanding of the way things work were shaped by a thoroughly entrenched fascist regime a mere 25 years ago (I know, because I grew up in it).

It may surprise a lot of people to hear this, but up until very recently, nobody really had any real hard data on what the racial divide when it comes to the private ownership of land actually was (the numbers were mostly just educated guesses). With "white-owned land" becoming such a hot-button issue for political and corporate elites (in stark contrast to the majority of South Africans they supposedly "represent"), suddenly every organisation has thrown their hat into the "land audit" ring, with a lot of the research that has hurriedly been performed now confounding all parties involved (including one of the government's own studies, which showed that only a minority of the country's land is actually privately owned). It's simply far more complicated than "whites own x% of land!" (which, of course, would be the case in any country if anyone stopped to think about it). This is the reason why the instigator of this new movement, Cyril Ramaphosa, has been at pains to take (publically, at least) a very open-ended and varied approach to the land issue. However, as anyone can tell, this didn't stop either the neoliberal hysteria or the alt-right (who has already been using white South Africans as props to push their "white Genocide" narrative) from vulturing in on the matter. Whether the majority of it is being driven from inside South Africa or outside it is difficult to tell.

As for Abahlali BaseMjondolo (AbM)... I am really glad that this fraccas at least has one very small good thing to it - and it is that a certain amount of leftists has now been exposed to this remarkable organization (I am a fan). But it must be understood that the Shackdweller's Movement (that is essentially what Abahlali BaseMjondolo means) doesn't actually form a part of this "hot button issue" - simply because they aren't politicians vying for power. Their approach to what land "is" and how it should be "owned", therefore, doesn't even show up in the debate. The vast majority of the land they've "invaded" (to use the parlance the local mainstream media here uses) isn't the "white-owned land" politicans talk about, but unused municipal lands they need to build their homes on. It's because their narrative cannot be co-opted into serving the political establishment's aims that they are repressed by not just government, but also the so-called political "opposition".

They are not the type of organisation one simply "joins"... they actually do not approve of people joining them simply out of ideology (though they do welcome researchers and journalists to stay with them for a while), because they kind of reject politics based on theories and activism that isn't built on actual and/or shared experience (even though they've created quite a lot of it themselves). There are white people in their organisation - something the EFF and other third-worldists politickers have lost no time in using as a propaganda-tool to try and discredit Abahlali BaseMjondolo amongst poor black communities.

A note on the EFF, since this vile bunch of political vultures will no doubt be showing up in any discussion on the "land issue" - here's something S’bu Zikode (leader of the Unemployed People's Movement, an organisation allied to AbM) had to say about this lot that shows how this bunch of fake socialists try to co-opt actual grass-roots leftist movements among poor black people in South Africa. This is from AbM's site, too, so feel free to read some of their stuff. It's pretty good.

http://abahlali.org/node/9996/

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Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

I will try to hide my excitement to be not the only person from this region of the world on raddle.

Yes, perhaps I wasn't clear enough, (I thought it would be expressed in the words populist and party that) I didn't think they were substantially radical. I didn't go into talking about Malema/Shivambu and the EFF leadership and actually deleted paragraphs on other topics because I wanted to keep things short.
However, I would not discount genuine radicalness of people on the ground and organising at that level for the EFF, even though it's not the shape of my own.

I'm aware also that Abahlali doesn't make up the conversation, I didn't mean to imply that it did - I was trying to point out directions where someone with a political preference for direct action would want to send their attention.
It was nice to read more about the details involved with joining them.

Nice first post! :)

Edit: Oh, and it'd be great if you could link to some reading around what's actually getting expropriated because I haven't come by it. It's useful info!

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therealmidnite wrote

It's difficult to tell which land exactly is going to be nationalized - it's all up in the air, with no details. But the Zulu "King" is already threatening civil war about this (the trust that keeps his over-moneyed arse in luxury cars owns something like 26% of the land in KZN province).

I'm certain there are very sincere but deluded people in the EFF that actually believe they are doing the right thing... Malema wouldn't be the first fake messiah in this part of the world.

Which part of here are you from?

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leftous wrote (edited )

Thanks for putting this together, TW. This should be useful for combating the white identitarian propaganda being spread lately.

Have any white/land owning South Africans joined movements like Abahlali?

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_ziq_ wrote

white identitarian propaganda being spread lately

I've noticed a huge surge in this lately too. Even in leftist forums people are selling the 'mass deportation of whites' propaganda.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

I don't know enough about it to say! But I suspect that there are extremely few.

I tried to play Where's Whitey Wally in some of the photos online - with no luck, though.