Letter | Leaders contradict themselves

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the May Day rally in Nelson Mandela Bay on May 1, 2018
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the May Day rally in Nelson Mandela Bay on May 1, 2018
Image: Werner Hills

If it was not threatening the very lives of its citizens, the South African political scene would prove a hilarious comic strip!

Our politicians wax lyrical about contentious matters which are dressed up in clichés, often contradicting themselves and the views of their sycophants.

For instance, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the government “is obsessed with empowering black South Africans”, and that “the time of white business monopolies is over”.

He also said: “Government is hellbent on making sure blacks own and managed the economy. For far too long this economy has been owned and controlled by white people. That must come to an end. Those who don’t like this idea – tough for you.”

Yet Ramaphosa has tasked a high-level team under the leadership of former finance minister Trevor Manuel to pursue foreign investment into South Africa targeting $100-billion.

Meeting recently with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Ramaphosa accepted a £50-million investment “across the next four years to help South Africa improve its business environment to make it more attractive to investors” and “creating a wealth of opportunities for UK business over the coming years”.

All this is very laudable and the answer to kickstarting our moribund economy. Foreign investment is going to create job opportunities and lift the life standards of our people, but surely all this is contrary to the ANC and EFF vision for South Africa regarding white control over the economy?

Will any foreign investments solicited be subject to white ownership scrutiny? If a major English store liked Tesco, for argument, wants to invest in a chain store expansion all over South Africa, will we refuse because it adds to the white monopoly conundrum?

Will foreign inflows of capital from other western countries and the United States not introduce more “white monopoly capital”, exacerbating the regime’s dilemma? Surely you cannot have your cake and eat it?

Then, in an amazing moment of ludicrous lucidity, EFF leader Julius Malema said: “When we say white monopoly capital, we’re not saying white people, but you know they have become so fragile that when you attack white monopoly capital, they think you’re attacking them.”

EFF leader Julius Malema.
EFF leader Julius Malema.
Image: Alaister Russell

Surely this is a contradiction in terms? Does one laugh or cry?

“No white person is a rightful owner of land in South Africa and the whole of the African continent”. and “People of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you”.

These, and other inflammatory statements by Malema and others, regarding repossession of white-owned land without compensation, are anathema to further development in the farming sector and to foreign investors.

Ramaphosa and Malema now attempt to ameliorate the situation by trying desperately to pacify white concerns with clichés such as Ramaphosa’s statement in parliament recently that “there’s no need for anyone of us to panic and to start beating war drums. Farming activities must continue as normal and investment in land and farming must continue”.

Malema has said “no one is going to lose his or her house”.

However, with a veritable sword of Damocles threatening land ownership, it must severely inhibit activities.

Will foreign investors consider investing in any land or bank-related investment in South Africa? And then we are all up in arms when Australia offered to take these white farmers off our hands!

Has this government given any thought to the effect these emotive statements have and will have on the present day, vulnerable farm workers?
Disillusioned farmers will curtail activities with disastrous results for their farm workers.

And what happens with expropriation, will labourers be looked after, or do we face similar instances like Grace Mugabe and others in Zimbabwe who, without any compassion, evicted families from the land they repossessed, creating untold misery?

In any event, our present-day police force is woefully inadequate to curtail desperate, hungry people, encouraged by rash political statements, from occupying and trashing farms. The recent Mahikeng chaos and Mooi River truck-burning scenarios are a foretaste of mobs out of control.

Land for black farmers is critical. And that an urgent answer must be found is not disputed.

However, one submits there are enormous reserves of land owned by the government and especially tribal properties, for example the Ingonyama Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, which should be developed and title given to black farmers, who should be guided and given support both with capital and training as a start.

Then by negotiation and legislation, white farmers should be induced to share their farms with their labourers on an equitable basis.

It is a highly emotive subject and the solutions are not easy. But to let property owners live under a “dispossession without compensation” cloud will surely create another Zimbabwe in South Africa, inevitably leading to starvation?

But the mixed-up rationale of this regime continues to intrigue and confound. In terms of our constitution we are all equal in South Africa, but this regime decided to introduce racial quotas for our sporting teams to correct the sins of the past.

Our Springbok team must field 50% black players by 2019. Our Proteas must select an average of six players of colour in their starting XIs over the course of a season, while two of those must be black African.

Two wrongs do not make a right and no matter how one tries to justify the process, it is a blatant form of apartheid. Sides are picked according to the colour of your skin, a practice that surely flies in the face of everything this country fought for and supposedly stands for?

When the suggestion of picking an overwhelming black side against Wales was mooted, it is seen as a major slap in the face of our black sportsmen as it implies they are not good enough and this is condescending in the extreme.

And quite rightly so, but for heaven’s sake, what about quotas in the first place?

We have wonderful black sports people competing in all our sports who are simply the very best in their fields and do not need quotas to make any team. What an incredible slur for these sportsmen and women to be stigmatised by quota selections! Was Bryan Habana picked because he was the best or because he was black?

According to a 2016 national survey by the SA Institute of Race Relations, 77% of all South Africans were in favour of teams picked on merit. Of the black people who participated, 74.2% also agreed teams should be picked free of quota constraints.

We live in interesting times and wait with bated breath for “Another National Calamity”. One day people reading the history of our country will remark that fact is certainly stranger than fiction.

-Talbot Cox, Schoenmakerskop