said the situation in South Africa looked under control because the
ruling party still enjoyed majority support. He anticipates that the
political fortune of the ruling party will soon begin to decline and
the rhetoric of its politicians will become increasingly
If the answer to this question is in the positive,
another question arises, For how long? But many black and white South Africans
living in comfort are seem to be denial mood. They deny that their current
prosperity is threatened by potentially violent land invasions similar to
majority of the people do not accept that the land of white
farmers is legitimate property of theirs. They believe that this
is stolen property. This is the general view among black South
Africans. When it happens here it will be worse", said Andile
Mngxitama of the National Land Committee.
And then at that point when a serious challenge from the opposition
emerges.they will have to speak the language of the people".
Jack Raath of Agri-South Africa disagrees.
He is very comfortable with his government and said South Africa was lucky to
have a government that has the 'right mentality on land reform'. "We are
fortunate the government does not believe in taking a person from a squatter
camp and give him a piece of land to farm. It is clear that our government does
not want to copy that sort of model. It
instils a lot of fear among our members to see it happen on our borders. We
have met with government and we have been assured that they will not go that
route." said Raath. But the
landless South Africans have been studying the dynamics of the Zimbabwean land
redistribution and believe that the environment for a spontaneous land invasion
is emerging. "We have just learnt that in the last few years Mugabe used to
oppose land invasions in the same way Mbeki is doing today," said Mngxitama.
Mngxitama claims that the Landless People's Movement (LPM) has
10 million members throughout the country. The movement has a network that
includes offices in every South African province. They are also affiliated to
the Zimbabwean War Veterans Association. They have sent delegations to Zimbabwe
to meet and learn the tactics of the Zimbabwean war veterans.
The movement attracted the attention of the South African
authorities when They organised their demonstrations during the Earth Summit.
The South African National Intelligence Agency (NIA) first interrogated the
movement's leaders before 72 of them were arrested just before the summit.
them. The violent land invasions in Zimbabwe have also exposed the limitations
of the market-assisted strategy prevailing in both South Africa and Namibia.
South African senior politicians have repeatedly stated that land invasions
will not be tolerated in their countries. In addition the Minister of Land
Affairs, Ms. Thoko Didiza, has indicated That her Department plans to
redistribute 30% of agricultural land in the next 15 years. This
represents 20 times the previous rate of redistribution. The dilemma for the
South African government is that the fundamental administrative constraints
that have hampered land redistribution in the last eight years remain in place.
|In the last two years Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his
government have grabbed the attention of the world as a result of what he
argues is a 'revolutionary' land reform programme which was fuelled by the need
to redress historical land imbalances and to alleviate the plight of the needy
and land hungry. Many have argued that there is a compelling need for land
reform, but such an effort should be undertaken without violence and within the
rule of law. In both Namibia and South Africa, there is an unbridgeable gap
between the ambitious redistribution targets that have been announced and the
financial and administrative resources needed to realise
President Thabo Mbeki's government has assured the world that
what has happened in Zimbabwe cannot happen in South Africa "because we have a
land reform programme", but this will sound increasingly hollow if the land
reform programme continues to fail to benefit large numbers of the landless.
With a more skewed land distribution and a reform programme which has delivered
less than 2% of a target set by former President Nelson Mandela in 1994, the
present South African administration is faced with millions of landless people.
South Africa's racial distribution of land in 1994 was sitting
at about 87% white and 13% black - and that balance has changed by up to 2% in
favour of blacks eight years into the new dispensation. Since the departure of
Nelson Mandela in 1999, the donor funds for land reform have been cut by 50% at
a time when some South Africans are growing impatient with the rate of
South Africa, which is Africa's economic powerhouse, stands
threatened with the same morass as that of Zimbabwe and it is up to the
international community to rally behind the South African government and help
their land reform succeed. In supporting this program the International
community can simultaneously protect its interest in the region.
The leader of a South African opposition party, United
Democratic Movement, General Bantu Holomisa who met with Robert Mugabe in early
September in Johannesburg during the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development
said his country had no choice but accelerate land redistribution to avoid
"In South Africa we have to move with speed because if what is
happening across the Limpopo happens here, then what is happening across the
Limpopo will look like a Sunday picnic," said General Holomisa.
Since 1999 the donor community has halved their support to the
South African land reform programme. This is at a time when the government has
announced that land redistribution is a matter as a priority. The ANC
government has set its target of redistributing 30% of the land in 15 years
from 2000 (a target which was initially set for the first five years into a new
dispensation.) And so far the government has redistributed less than 2% of the
land since 1994 and this is far less than expectation of the landless.
Out of a total government spending of R258.3 billion (US$25.8
billion) projected for 2002, the government will spend R900million ($90
million) on Land Affairs, representing only 0.3% of its national budget in
contrast to a staggering R48.1 billion (US$4.8 billion) representing 18.6% of
the budget to be spent servicing the national debt.
Following the end of apartheid the South African government
has many yawning gaps to fill in education, housing and health. While the land
issue is a ticking time bomb it does not feature as a key priority on the
government expenditure. The slow pace of land redistribution is clearly due to
lack of resources.
The government's major constraint is funding. Dr.
Gilingwe Mayende, director general of department of land affairs said it was
self evident that the land reform is under-funded in comparison to the budget
allocation of other programs like housing, which received R3.5 billion, more
than three times the R900 million allocated to Land Affairs. The government is
now mobilising financial resources because it believes it has put the system in
place to deliver more land.
"Our biggest problem is the amount of money the farmers are
asking for their land, and if they are not happy they say they are not selling,
so we have to go to court. The amount of money paid by the government has been
inflated. Some see the program as a bonanza. The problem we are facing is
greed. There is a problem of
collusion between the farmer and evaluator in hiking the value of the land. Sometimes
we have to bring a second evaluator," said Mayende.
There is clear divergence of opinion on the land issue and the
race card seems unavoidable because of the racial imbalance of the land
ownership. There is a strong consensus among black people in general that land
redistribution is long overdue in South Africa and that the redistribution
should take place now. The consensus only weakens on the method of achieving