Written by: Bill Harrington
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) is aimed at deepening African economic integration, promoting agricultural development, food security, industrialization and structural economic transformation through a single-air continental transport market with free movement of people, capital, goods and services. These are all catchy phrases used by many African leaders to implement policies that resulted in failed states with disastrous consequences for the people of most of those countries. Zimbabwe is a prime example.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also raised the issue of visa barriers for travelers between South Africa and other Africa countries, saying that “African leaders were creating pathways for their countries which had been impeded by Artificial Borders to flourish. Amongst the issues discussed, was that we must resolve the challenge of issuing of visa to Africa people wanting to visit South Africa, we thus consider this matter of visas as solved”.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, launched the African passport to bring the free movement of people and trade on the continent a step closer to reality. Taking into account that she is an ally of Julius Malema, who is the champion for the land expropriation without compensation motion in Parliament, it begs the question; why is Cyril Ramaphosa supporting these radical Marxist policies?
What does this mean for South Africa and more directly, what does this mean for the minority groups in South Africa, who are already marginalized through discriminatory race -based policies?
South Africa already has an estimated population of 57 million people and has a very high percentage of unemployment. Within the Cape alone, the colored, Khoi and San minority communities have unemployment as high as 70% due to Black Economic Empowerment policies. For them, being a gang member is the only occupation available, which compounds the already astronomical crime problem within their communities created by southern migration of criminal elements.
Will the already unemployed witness and tolerate how hundreds of thousands of economic migrants from the greater Africa flood South Africa, taking up their jobs, living space, educational and medical resources, social grants and land at an even higher rate than what is currently the case? Especially since these services and economic opportunities are already scarce due to widespread corruption and incompetence in government? Will this not lead to widespread instability, given that xenophobic violence already regularly erupts due to these exact factors?
Another drastic policy change presents an even more significant threat to the stability of South Africa. The government recently announced its intention to change the Constitution to allow for expropriation of property without compensation. The result of taking property that is currently lawfully owned, and handing it to political allies or people with no commercial farming experience, is clearly visible in the 99% failure rate of farms redistributed under previous compensation-based schemes.
The threat of expropriation without compensation will have an immediate and devastating impact on South Africa agriculture, long before land is physically expropriated. Bonds on land will become worthless, leaving farmers with no means of obtaining credit to finance their continuing agriculture activities. This will likely lead to widespread bankruptcy among commercial farmers, resulting in a major decrease in food security and an exodus of experience farmers out of South Africa. It should be noted that South Africa’s current, predominantly-white farmers are known to be world-class producers and are sought after by various countries such as Australia and several other countries on the African continent. These countries are more than willing to extend a lifeline to white farmers who are facing a sustained brutal campaign of murder, torture, rape, theft and killing of livestock on a daily basis.
Moreover, South Africa’s fastest growing political party, the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have openly and repeatedly displayed their hate of the minorities. Among their many inflammatory statements, their leader proclaimed that they are “not calling for the slaughter of white people – at least for now”. It is also the EFF that brought the motion of expropriation of property without compensation that was approved in Parliament. It is known that the current President Cyril Ramaphosa recently called on the leader of the EFF, Julius Malema to come back to the ANC, effectively aligning the ruling party with the radical policies of the EFF.
On the other hand of the spectrum, not only the farmers but more and more minority members are threatened by these policies and are preparing to resist in one form or the other. When you consider that they have tolerated BEE, affirmative action, racially-charged rhetoric by politicians, crime and even uncontrolled mass action by the majority for more than 20 years, you realize how much they have sacrificed. Their economic and personal safety and security, and those of their families, have become an accepted loss but now their very survival is threatened. This is triggering their defense instincts, and several groups have already stated that a red line is about to be crossed.
It is clear that any misstep by either, or both, of these groups can ignite the simmering tensions that have been caused by openly racist politics. This could easily escalate to bloodshed and a widespread humanitarian crisis. Given the dominant economic position of South Africa in sub-Saharan Africa, a civil conflict could lead to a continent-wide catastrophe and refugee crisis the likes of which the world has not seen in decades.
Unfortunately, there are not many options left on the table for a peaceful solution. The issues mentioned above are fundamental, long-term, and deeply-rooted differences for which no solutions have been found in more than two decades of democratic rule. Perhaps the most concerning aspect is that these radical and racist policies apparently enjoy widespread popular support among the black majority, and that the ANC and EFF easily commands the two-thirds majority required to make constitutional changes. Parties proposing unity and reconciliation are either stagnating or in decline.
But, despite the current situation, the solution is simpler than what many people may realise. There is a region in South Africa that is fundamentally different from the rest of the country. A region that was independent for almost 300 years until 1910, and by rights should never have been incorporated into South Africa. A region where the vast majority of the inhabitants are members of the oppressed brown and white minorities and speaks the shared Afrikaans language. This region has for tens of thousands of years belonged to the aboriginal Khoi and San tribes, who since 1652 have lived in peace with the early settlers from Europe.
This region is called the Cape, and consists of the former Cape Colony (approximately the current southwestern provinces of the Western and Northern Cape). The current brown and white populations in this region are the direct descendants of the First Nations and early European settlers. The following maps (taken from the 2011 South African census) immediately and clearly show how substantially different the Cape is from the rest of South Africa: