Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, 20 February 2018
For those ostensibly interested in building a multiracial democracy, the recent history of Zimbabwe should be a warning, not a model. However, South Africa appears poised to follow its northern neighbor’s disastrous policies of land confiscation and white scapegoating, accelerating the former First World nation’s decline. International observers are cheered by the departure of the “Rainbow Nation’s” famously corrupt president Jacob Zuma, but the new South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, faces the all but impossible task of repairing the country’s crumbling economy while appeasing a black electorate that wants to seize white farmland.
President Ramaphosa, leader of South Africa’s dominant African National Congress (ANC), is taking office with sky-high expectations from both South Africans and the international community. However, there has been so much economic damage from Mr. Zuma’s administration that both S&P Global and Fitch have downgraded South Africa’s long term debt to “junk,” and Moody’s has put the country on review. If Moody’s follows S&P and Fitch, South Africa’s government will have to spend more on debt payments, and investment capital would flee the country, making it even more difficult to fund social programs. South Africa’s finance minister (who is seen as a Zuma loyalist and whose job is in doubt) says repairing South Africa’s credit rating will be a top priority for the new government.
The markets are responding positively to Mr. Ramaphosa’s inauguration; the rand increased in value and stocks soared after Mr. Zuma was forced out. Optimistic press reports claim South Africa is ready to “explode” economically. Also, racial tensions are said to be exaggerated, since Mr. Zuma failed in his attempt to cling to power by blaming white people. South Africa’s legal process functioned as it should, and Mr. Zuma was forced out peacefully, despite fears he was going to use militant tactics to stay in power. Since Mr. Ramaphosa’s main priorities are economic, he hardly sounds like a radical.
JOHANNESBURG, March 14, 2017 South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) 2017 at Sandton Convention Center, Johannesburg,?South?Africa, on March 14, 2017.?The Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) 2017 opened on Tuesday in Johannesburg by South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with the aim of sharing ideas on how small businesses can grow and make positive contributions to their countries. (Credit Image: © Xinhua via ZUMA Wire)
Nevertheless, Mr. Ramaphosa’s margin for maneuver is far narrower than enthusiastic coverage would suggest. While trying to calm international markets, he has also called for confronting “inequality,” a question that in South Africa carries major racial overtones. He will find it hard to do both.
First, more than anything else, Mr. Ramaphosa has to tackle the problems of corruption and mismanagement in state-owned companies, problems that got worse under Mr. Zuma. Mr. Zuma built his power on a network of patronage and political obligations, and rooting out his loyalists will take time. It is also likely to be divisive for the already fragmented ANC, since Mr. Zuma still has supporters, especially in his stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal. Mr. Zuma is reported to have had corrupt partnerships with the Guptas—an Indian immigrant family with a huge holdings in South Africa’s resources—and his upcoming trial will only heighten tensions within the ANC.
The very trait that makes Mr. Ramaphosa attractive to foreign investors—his perceived friendliness to the free market—also opens up a line of attack for his opponents inside and outside the ANC. Mr. Ramaphosa is, by South African standards, soft on the question of race and redistribution of wealth. The main division is around the term “white monopoly capital.” Mr. Zuma and his allies wanted the term, with its explicit racial identification, designated in party propaganda as an enemy to be fought. Mr. Ramaphosa argued that the term, which once formed part of the ANC’s revolutionary lexicon, should be left in the past. Others still use such language. For example, Jacob Zuma’s son Edward, even while calling for party unity behind Mr. Ramaphosa, declared his father’s fall a victory for “white monopoly capital and the Western agents who are hell-bent on destroying our country.”
Julius Malema of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party has vowed to give Mr. Ramaphosa even more trouble than he gave Mr. Zuma. He recirculated reports of Mr. Ramaphosa’s involvement in a massacre of striking mine workers in 2012 and reportedly said that he “wanted to show white capitalists that Ramaphosa will not save them.” Since Mr. Malema is already blasting Mr. Ramaphosa for having “no plan,” the new president will be under pressure to act quickly. While the EFF has a small political following compared to that of the ANC, the fact Mr. Malema is a former head of the ANC Youth League shows the potential for the ANC to splinter on questions of economic redistribution and race.
Mr. Malema is already finding something to cheer about, since Mr. Ramaphosa has declared his support for a program of taking land without compensation. This would seem to conflict with his promise to increase economic growth and attract foreign investment. Foreign capital shies away from countries where it can be seized without recompense, but Mr. Ramaphosa probably felt he had to offer the Left something. However, he suggests farmland should be taken only in a way that “increases agricultural production, improves food security.”
It is not clear how this can be done.
The agricultural association Agri SA has warned that any attempt to change the constitution to legalize taking land without compensation would be economic suicide. Some analysts suggest such a plan wouldn’t even do much to reduce economic inequality but would simply harm investment and food security. Even ministers from Zimbabwe are telling South Africa that following the Robert Mugabe model is a bad idea.
Mr. Ramaphosa seems to be trying to have it both ways. He has recommended in the past that people remain calm about the land issue. In January, he acknowledged that it was a “delicate” problem, distancing himself from the Mr. Malema’s EFF and the radicals. Yet telling white farmers their land could be taken and that without them South Africa could be a “garden of Eden” is hardly conducive to calm. The Boer Afrikaner Volksraad, an Afrikaner activist group, said any land seizure would be a “declaration of war” and promised retaliation. Since Mr. Malema told his followers last year to simply “take” land they like, there is a strong possibility of either a violent confrontation or a political debacle.
If confidence in Mr. Ramaphosa is shattered, that could be the final blow to South Africa’s rickety credit ratings. Even if Mr. Ramaphosa succeeds in one aspect of his economic program, that may increase pressure for him to confiscate land. One of South Africa’s most important industries is mining, where there are especially high expectations for Mr. Ramaphosa. However, as mining operations expand, they may spill over onto arable land, which edges out tribal communities and could increase demands for redistribution of white farms.
What’s more, it’s questionable whether any redistribution program can be efficiently administered until corruption is rooted out, since redistribution would probably spawn new forms of fraud and bribery. Given the confusion about who actually owns a great deal of South Africa’s farmland, even the most careful tallies would be marred with inaccuracies and arbitrary judgments.
White South Africans are facing more immediate threats than the legal ones coming from the new head of state. After the ANC takeover, the South African government implemented strict gun control and outlawed the “commandos,” or Afrikaner self-defense groups, making it far harder for farmers to protect themselves. Not surprisingly, the murder rate for Boer farmers is famously high. On October 30, 2017, white South Africans hosted nationwide #BlackMonday protests, which Afrikaner advocate Dan Roodt credits with creating a “sense of community and solidarity” among whites, who now realize the ANC government will not protect them. Organizations such as the Suidlanders claim they will be able to safeguard the white population in the event of a crisis, but there is already a constant low-level crisis. Just last Friday, there was yet another farm murder, with a 73-year-old man killed after three gun-toting men broke into his house.
The violence against white South African farmers is already on the brink of mainstream attention. Well-known British columnist Katie Hopkins created a media hubub after being banned from South Africa earlier this month for “racist views”—that is, for pointing out the frequency of farm murders—and Lauren Southern’s firsthand reporting on violence against white South Africans is already in post-production as a documentary entitled “Farmlands.” Last summer, Ann Coulter said “White South African farmers facing genocide” were “the only real refugees.”
There’s another major crisis looming for Mr. Ramaphosa. Cape Town is on the verge of running out of water. “Day Zero,” the day when the municipal water supply will be cut off, has been set for June 4. Cape Town has dramatically increased in population over the last two decades, adding more strain on an already buckling infrastructure. Like the rest of South Africa, Cape Town faces huge divisions between its white and black population. Although there has been so much advance warning that serious civil disorder seems unlikely, the spectacle of one of the country’s greatest cities running out of water will hardly inspire investor confidence.
The situation of white South Africans is nearing a turning point. Lawless violence and “lawful” confiscation could end Afrikaner farming. Whites are being increasingly scapegoated for the country’s problems by the likes of Mr. Malema’s EFF and the left wing of the ANC. And while Mr. Ramaphosa may symbolize a return to sanity, his call for land confiscation suggests he fears losing the left wing of his party. Even if he does not follow through with confiscation, raising the hopes of black leftists could have dangerous consequences for white South Africans, who are now essentially hostages in their own country.
However, apocalypse is probably not around the corner. Some of the more excitable conservative and white advocacy websites have long warned of impending “white genocide,” but the handover of power to the ANC did not trigger mass extermination. There was no Haitian-style orgy of bloodletting after the death of Nelson Mandela. Though the ANC continues to sing violent songs such as “Bring Me My Machine Gun,” President Ramaphosa is trying to strike a conciliatory tone and even suggests land confiscation will be done in an orderly way after a process of study, not through Mr. Malema’s preferred tactic of arbitrarily claiming land. The main priority of the South African government is appeasing the international financial system, not slaughtering white farmers.
If Mr. Ramaphosa succeeds, it would make South Africa’s political situation more repressive. South Africa’s ANC seems to have found a model to emulate in China’s political system, which unites the interest of the ruling party with that of the state. The rightist Democratic Alliance and the forthrightly leftist Economic Freedom Fighters EFF gained ground at the expense of the ANC as South Africans revolted against Jacob Zuma’s corruption. Now that Mr. Zuma is gone, there is a possibility the ANC will be able to reestablish its all-but-all-powerful place in South African politics. If Mr. Ramaphosa can give the ANC political hegemony, South Africa could gradually become a de jure, rather than a de facto, one party state. Whites would have even less power under such a system than they have now.
For now, the most likely outcome is that Mr. Ramaphosa will to try to please “white monopoly capital” abroad while appealing to leftists at home through land confiscation, ultimately satisfying no one. Black crime and violence will rise, and public trust will diminish. Whites are already in danger, with each house operating as a kind of fortress. Private security services are practically a necessity.
As long as the violence proceeds at a level low enough not to draw mainstream media attention, there will be no real political pressure to change. Ultimately, South African whites pose little political threat to the South African elite. The government will be indifferent to their welfare, provided they are not killed suddenly enough to cause a media outcry. Whites will simply be whittled down. Eventually, to speak of a Boer “people” will be as fanciful as speaking of a Rhodesian “people.”
The solution is for white South Africans to break away from the ANC-controlled system. A number of white leaders during the final months of apartheid did commit to seceding from South Africa and creating a “Boer Volkstaat.” However, one of the most influential right-wing leaders, General Constand Viljoen, betrayed the movement at the last minute, instead suggesting participation in “democratic elections”—a strange strategy when facing an overwhelming black majority. Gerneral Viljoen supposedly extracted a promise from the new government to “consider” a Volkstaat, but, predictably enough, none was ever really considered. He dedicated himself to creating an Afrikaner political party, “Freedom Front Plus,” which generally wins less than 1 percent of the vote. Boers cannot vote their way out of this problem.
But votes do count for something, and there is one place where the Freedom Front Plus wins landslides: the thriving Boer community of Orania. And Orania’s leadership believes now is the time to start pushing for a homeland, arguing that conditions are more favorable than ever. Julius Malema has made a cordial visit to the town, and, incredibly, the EFF won four votes there.
Yet, there is great antipathy towards Orania, and the South African government is unlikely to let the Boers go their own way. South Africa’s powerful trade unions are urging the government to crush Orania and its plans to introduce a new e-currency. It is so obvious that a Boer Volkstaat would be a success that even a National Review columnist has called for a white South African city-state. But that’s precisely why the ANC can’t let the Afrikaners go. Losing their resources and tax revenue would be a heavy blow to South Africa’s struggling economy.
There will be no easy road to Afrikaner freedom. This great people must be ready either to seize a sudden opportunity in the midst of violence or continue cautiously to build a community as the country grows more desperate and divided.
White advocates around the world ought to be deeply concerned with the fate of the Afrikaners, even aside from humanitarian reasons. South Africa shows the future for white people in a majority non-white world. Whites are rendered collectively powerless, politically oppressed, and somehow still labeled as privileged. And while the government provides some minimum level of protection of property to keep the economy going, leftist political parities representing the non-white masses are constantly urging—and gradually getting—an ever larger share of white property.
The Boers can’t fight this battle alone. The status quo is untenable and dangerous, and the only likely alternatives are worse. White advocates must denounce the constant violence against the Boers, ensure no action is taken against Orania, and lobby for white South Africans to be treated as refugees if they flee their homeland. Most importantly, white South Africans need support from our people’s larger diaspora, whether the attack continues against them at its current pace or whether it accelerates as Mr. Ramaphosa moves to seize their land.
White South Africans have inhabited their country as long as white Americans have inhabited ours. In the long run, their fate will be our fate. Mr. Ramaphosa must learn there is a line not to be crossed. Land confiscation is that line. If he decides to fight the Boers, whites around the world must send him a message: He’s fighting us all.