Not white genocide, not really land reform, not really farmers

Not white genocide, not really land reform, not really farmers

This week the far right South African white genocide meme went mainstream via a Trump tweet, but apart from ‘no it’s not really white genocide’ fact checking there’s been little discussion of what’s actually going on.

Africa is a Country has covered the white genocide industry pretty well already, so read their article if you want to understand how the meme has been manufactured. I wrote about this issue in March, including both the ANC’s Ramaphosa and the EFF’s Julius Malema’s pro-business stances on land reform. In fact it's so business friendly Bloomberg thinks it's too tame.

In this case, Trump’s tweet appears to have been inspired by Tucker Carlson segment, in which he interviewed white South African Cato Institute pundit Marian L Tupy.

On 20th August Tupy wrote on the Cato Institute’s blog that South Africa had begun expropriations of white farmers and asks Trump to intervene because this threatens property rights.
Tupy links to a News Corp Australia article.1

It’s at this point we finally get to the news report that sparked off this chain of racist paranoia,a local segment on News 24 which discusses two test cases in expropriation which the ANC put to the front of the queue.

News 24 writes that two farms owned by Akkerland Boerdery in Limpopo are set for expropriation, Lukin 643 and Salaita 188.

This is where things go completely off the fucking rails.

First of all Akkerland Boerdery’s facebook page has shared posts by the far right group Afriforum, adding their own caption “Now the world is unravelling the ANC Big Secret to the world protected by the International liberal media and George Soros funded crime machine!!!!”

Secondly, Lukin 643 and Salaita 188 are not farms in any meaningful sense.

Akkerland Boerdery’s website states:

Akkerland Boerdery (Pty) Ltd is a 3200 ha game farm, 60km from Louis Trichardt (Makhado) and 30km from Tshipise.

There are two self catering units with 3 rooms each with warm water. We have cold room facilities and guide/'spoorsnyer'. Trophy Hunting, Cooperate Hunting, Bow Hunting, Father and Son Hunting Trips, Family Hunting, Ladies Hunts, Biltong Hunts

So, a luxury game hunting destination.

News 24 states that the Musekwa community first lodged a land claim againt Akkerland Boer in 1996, over twenty years ago and just two years after the end of apartheid. Land claims sitting outstanding for over twenty years is not unusual, in fact City Press reported that it could take 200 years to process the current backlog. In other words the barrier to land reform is not actually paying compensation to landowners, but the fact that claims never get processed at all. Communities like Musekwa in Limpopo are wracked by unemployment and poverty. In 2008, Sowetan Live reported that multimillion rand project to kick-start goat farming in the community had seen all the funding used up without a single goat being farmed or any jobs going to local people.

At this point, you might be thinking “Ah OK, so instead of white smallholders being slaughtered in their sleep, it’s actually multi-decade claims against multi-million dollar game hunting resorts finally being resolved in the favour of the tribes whose land was stolen during apartheid and have received no meaningful assistance.”, but unfortunately this doesn’t look like it’s necessarily the case either.

Almost buried in the News24 report is this paragraph: “However, Akkerland also had an offer of R20m from Coal of Africa, which wanted to buy the farm for the controversial Makhado coal mining project. This was, however, subject to the approval of the land claims commission because of the pending land claim”. Given Ramaphosa’s well documented links to the mining industry, and the massacre of miners at Marikana in 2012, this seemed worth looking into.

Makhado colliery is a proposal for an open cast mine on the farms Windhoek 649 MS,Tanga 648 MS, Fripp 645 MS, Lukin 643 MS,Boas 642 MS and Salaita 188 MT, according to the South African Heritage Resources Agency Phase 1 Heritage Impact Assessment Report from 20122.

According to court papers filed by Coal of Africa in 2014 Akkerland Boerdery had prevented Coal of Africa prospecters from accessing the property, and News24 has separately reported that any sale of the land to Coal of Africa was stalled due to the land claim by the Musekwa community. Coal of Africa has since rebranded to MCMining and Makhado remains their flagship project.

If the two ‘farms’ are expropriated, then they will not be directly awarded to the Musekwa community, but instead the land title will reside with the South African government. There are still conflicting proposals from the ANC and EFF on what might happen once land is nationalised, The ANC has discussed redistributing ownership to the people working on the land, whereas the EFF has discussed reverting all land titles to the state and leasing everything back3.

If the state does expropriate land from Akkerland Boerdery, with or without compensation, will it be given to the local community? And whether or not it’s given to the local community, will they benefit from the open cast coal mine project that could start as early as the end of this year?

Instead of discussing whether white genocide is going on or not, everyone could do with understanding the actual issues facing post-Apartheid South Africa, whether poor rural communities like Musekwa caught between state inaction and open cast mining companies, or housing activists in informal settlements surrounding cities like Durban and on South Africa more generally.