SOUTH Africa’s white farmers have hit out in anger at the government’s decision to agree to constitutional changes to seize land from them.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced plans to allow white people’s land to be taken without compensation, which will then be distributed to black people in a move that he believes will be good for the economy.
The president made the announcement late on Tuesday in a televised address to the nation.
The farmers have claimed that the government’s plan will be “catastrophic and could lead to anarchy and food shortages like Venezuela or Zimbabwe”.
The economy of Zimbabwe collapsed after their own land reform was carried out.
More than 20 years after the end of apartheid in South Africa, white farmers still own the majority of South Africa’s land.
An organisation representing South Africans, AfriForum, said that land expropriation with no compensation would have “catastrophic results like in Venezuela and Zimbabwe”.
In the 1990s black South Africans received grants and subsidies to buy land plots, which resulted in overcrowding and poor land use.
South Africa’s history of colonial conquest has pushed most of the black people into crowded urban areas or rural reserves.
The 1913 Native Lands Act made it illegal for Africans to acquire land beyond these reserves, which became known as “Homelands”.
About one-tenth of land in white ownership has been transferred to black ownership since the end if apartheid, which is only a third of the government’s target.
Some investors think that Ramaphosa may be simply trying to win political points with the land reform ahead of an election next year.
Bennie Van Zyl, the general manager of the Agricultural Union of South Africa (TAU SA), said: “For us, this is a pity that they’ve made their choice, because no one will invest in this economy and we actually need growth to address the realities of South Africa. So we have great concern for this approach.
“A lot of foreign countries that have already contacted us as an organisation say if that is the case, we are not willing to invest in your country anymore.
“And if the ANC goes through with this, it will be devastating for this country.”