Friday, September 23, 2005

South Africans Finally Lose Patience

Unlike Zimbabwe, when the South African majority blacks gained their rightful place to head a government that does not practice racist apartheid, they did not seize back the land of their forefathers that was unfairly appropriated by white settlers.

87% of agricultural land was owned by the 10% whites. But land re-distribution is vital to a more equitable and stable South African society, so it has been encouraging a legal buy-back. Over 10 years this has resulted only in 7% land being successfully purchased for re-distribution.

Many white settlers have refused to cooperate or are holding back for an exorbitant price. The government has finally lost its patience. It will now move to seize, for a start, a 500 hectares land owned by a white farmer, but it will do so under an expropriation legislation, legally that is, with avenues for challenges by the land owner and full and fair compensation.

I am not entirely surprised. The blacks in South Africa have been so badly treated for so long that it's a wonder that there was no bloodbath after the rise of black power - thanks to the fair and farsighted qualities of Nelson Mandala.

It’s high time that the original owners get back a piece of their ancestral land, but in a manner that does not completely dispossess the current owners. Otherwise, how else can that troubled nation gain the justice, stability and peace it so deserves.

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