By Phumzile ‘Phurah’ Jack
The current debates around land expropriation without compensation have forced us to come to grips with the questions, who are the rightful owners of the land and once we get it, who must own and administer it? Any wise individual must reject the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) position, and some sections within the African National Congress (ANC), that once expropriated, the land must be controlled or transferred to the State. I argue, transferring land to the hands of our current stock of politicians would be suicidal. It would be detrimental to trust politicians which have been bought by white monopoly capital. These same politicians are currently killing State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) like Eskom & South African Airways (SAA), by slowly making sure they are being privatized.
There are fundamental differences between the EFF and Black First Land First’s (BLF) position on the land question.
The EFF claims the Freedom Charter as one of its guiding documents. This means Mokone’s party believes that the land that was violently taken away from blacks by white setters belongs to all who live in it – both the oppressed blacks and the oppressor white. EFF advocates a populist, neo-liberal or plain down sellout position, no different from COPE’s Terror Lekota who argues that there is no such thing as black people or white people, we are all just people. Both Malema and Lekota mimic racist whites who blatantly ignore how the economy and society at large are designed to exploit a majority (black) in order to benefit a minority (white).
BLF on the other hand is clear: black and white people are not equal in the eyes of the economy and of the law. Black people are the landless majority. The land, therefore, does not belong to white people. BLF acknowledges that the living conditions of black people in townships stems from economic apartheid which is both masterminded and driven by racist whites who live in lavish neighborhoods and who believe black people are inferior and should not be given economic power through land ownership.
You can’t speak of a raceless society, or a “South Africa for all”, when a minority race that designed and benefited from colonialism, slavery and apartheid still owns the country – over 80% of the land & 97% of companies on the JSE. Not only this, they continue to treat the indigenous majority like refugees at worst and charity cases at best.
How must the land be redistributed?
The inequality we experience now began in 1652 when land which was in the hands of the people was taken from the black majority by settler colonialists. Land was then owned by white monopoly companies such as the Dutch East Indian Company and privately owned by white individuals like Cecil John Rhodes. They made sure that black people had no claim to land, and therefore no claim to water, food, shelter or citizenship. White people made themselves citizens and us slaves – disposable cheap labour. Black people, slowly, out of desperation, had to seek jobs to eat and survive.
Before colonial conquest, land was utilized for the greater good of the majority. After slavery, colonization and apartheid, land was private property of white-owned companies and the white elite.
Nothing much has changed since 1994: black people, who in the majority, are mostly unemployed and are still utilized as disposable cheap labour or at best assistants to heads of industry while white workers earn 10 to 50 times more.
Once land became centralized in the hands of White Monopoly Capital, and wealthy white families, corruption ran rampant because those who owned the land controlled the economy, and those who controlled the economy had captured the State. The State of South Africa was created by the Dutch East Indian Company to help administer its operations of exporting resources like diamonds and gold while using natural resources like water and administering relations with white workers based in South Africa. In the early years of slavery and colonialism it was a well understood reality that the State worked on behalf of big companies, a reality that persists today but is somewhat more concealed.
Through decentralizing land ownership, which is currently in the hands of white monopoly capital (white families), we will begin to decentralize and eventually combat corruption, that is at boiling point in the state due to State Capture that exists because of the relationship between corruptible state officials and big business that uses huge sums of money to get what it wants at any cost.
Ownership of land needs to be decentralized and out of the hands of the white monopoly captured state.
Julius Malema in the last 5 years has used public funds to attack the Zulu Nation. We must take a step back and ask why. Why is Malema attacking the most organised black tribe in South Africa? Why does Malema want to take away land and power from the Zulu King, while arguing Land must be centrally controlled by the government?
Malema in these 5 years has protected white-owned land to the extent of publicly and consistently promising white billionaires that the productive land from which the SA economy stems will be protected for their benefit. This same Malema wants to be the next President of South Africa.
Let us imagine a South Africa in which Julius Malema is the President. A South Africa where all land once again does not belong to black people. A South Africa where kings once again have no power. A South Africa where white billionaires still control and profit off all productive land. A South Africa where whites still determine who gets jobs because they still control the economy. A South Africa where Malema becomes the Kings of all Kings in SA, by being President who administers the land but not for the benefit of the black majority but for the benefit of White Monopoly Capital.
Let’s not repeat mistakes of the past – decentralize the administration of land, because land cannot be centrally administered by a white monopoly captured state. We need only look at SEOs to see what will become of land under the administration of the State which is controlled by White Racist Billionaires.