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The Native Land Act 105 years later

By BO Staff Writer

Today marks 105 years since the passing of the Native Land Act in 1913. The act, which is largely seen as a predecessor to apartheid separatist laws, allocated 93% of arable land to whites, whilst squeezing the black majority to 7% black reserves.

The history of colonial land dispossession for the black majority stems from the arrival of white settlers in the Cape and their subsequent massacre of the Native populations, but 1913 symbolises the making into law of this dispossession along with the legislated undermining of the black majority.

The Act saw the lives of black people being shifted upside down as the land which was central to their ways of life, culture and livelihood was again violently seized from them.

Today, 105 years later, the black majority still lives in squalor, while whites own the majority of the land. Black people own a minuscule section of the economy, via the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

Where business and the corporate world is concerned – which is also intricately tied to the land question – whites are at the top in terms of managerial positions.

The farms, mines and other key sectors of the economy which are tied to the land, are in white hands.

The face of poverty, destitution and landlessness is black.

Vital conversations and political interventions to right this historical injustice, via land expropriation without compensation, are being met with various push backs from white monopoly capital and Western imperialism.

South African political parties which should be pushing for the return of the land to the black majority are now being used by white monopoly capital to maintain the status quo.

The African National Congress (ANC) under Cyril Ramaphosa is constantly backtracking on the land question and subscribes to the white supremacist logic that black people cannot work the land, and if blacks are given land, there will be a risk to food security.

On the other hand, the supposedly pro-land return Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are preoccupied with fighting other black people, while leaving white land thieves untouched. The EFF also committed the unforgivable sin of giving political power to the white racist Democratic Alliance (DA), thus ensuring land return is pushed further and further away.

The devastation caused by the Native Land Act was best articulated by Sol Plaatje who famously wrote, “Awaking on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.”

We can only guess that Plaatje would be devastated to learn that Blacks are still pariahs in the land of their birth, 105 years later.

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