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Fear of karma?

BAFFOUR'S BEEFS

Fear of karma?

Any mention of land reform in South Africa seems to drive the right-wing US media into a frenzy, warning of dire consequences, even the genocide of Whites in Africa. What is behind this over-the-top reaction? By Baffour Ankomah

I see that Fox News has been calling President Cyril Ramaphosa “a racist” because he wants to take land from White South Africans and redistribute it to Black South Africans. To Fox News that is a sin. The American right-wing TV station brought on one Marian Tupy of the Cato Institute recently to comment on what it describes as the “South African land grab”. Tupy, with not a shred of shame, called land reform in South Africa “immoral”.

What history was Tupy taught at school? For he went on to warn that South Africa could be thrown out of America’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) if it went ahead with its land reform programme because basically it is “not respecting property rights and due process”.

“The SA government must be aware that if it changes the constitution and legalises the seizure of what is essentially private property, it will be kicked out of AGOA and further negative economic consequences will ensue,” Tupy warned.

Not to be left out, the Fox News anchor chipped in, asking Tupy why the former US President Barack Obama would praise “a racist like Cyril Ramaphosa” several weeks ago?

“A racist like Cyril Rampahosa”! Just because he wants to bring a measure of justice to a place like South Africa where skin colour privilege was legalised by an Apartheid system that gave people with pink skins the joys of eating the fat of the land (and they continue to eat the fat of the land) while Black people had to make do with crumbs from the table.

That notwithstanding, Tupy went on to prophesy that Ramaphosa “is going to turn SA into a hell just like Zimbabwe is a complete catastrophe”. He thus called on the Trump administration to make it clear to Ramaphosa that “it is immoral” to take land from White South Africans.

“Obama should pick up the phone and call Ramaphosa,” said Tupy, “and tell him that if he wants to continue to enjoy the good press that he has been having, he needs to reverse [the] policy that he has set on and behave in accordance with normal rules that define and characterise free countries.” Well, you lose your breath just by listening to such drivel.

So “good press” is now more important than the economic future of millions of Black South Africans, therefore Ramaphosa must sacrifice that economic future for good press in the West.

Skewed morality

It is the same kind of thinking that has reduced Zimbabwe to a “complete catastrophe” (in Tupy’s words) after nearly 20 years of Western economic sanctions imposed because Zimbabwe dared to redistribute land from White farmers to Blacks.

America and some of its allies have continued with the sanctions even as Zimbabwe has already become a “complete catastrophe”. What kind of people are these Westerners who think they hold in their hands the life and death of African nations and their people?

What morals is Tupy talking about? Is it morality when people of European stock roam around the world, take the land of innocent people after killing them, and impose their own system of so-called “normal rules that define and characterise free countries”? Free to wipe out whole populations in the Americas, in Australia and New Zealand, in Southern Africa, and God knows where else? Is that morality?

That Fox News can spew such outrage and call Ramaphosa “a racist” just for trying to address the rapacious history that people of pink skin perpetrated in Southern Africa makes one shake with anger. Pure unadulterated anger!

Last year, on 30 April to be exact, the World Bank, another of the Western institutions that supported and implemented economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, finally saw the light in a landmark report that supported land reform in South Africa, including even land expropriation without compensation. New African covered this is detail.

The report was so groundbreaking that it shamed the Western world and its normally vociferous media into silence! So ashamed of their past deeds, especially how they supported economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, was the Western media that it refused to publicise the World Bank report – except for the right-wing American TV channel, One American News Network (or OAN). It did this not to set the record straight, but as a warning that Whites could now officially lose their grip on land.

Titled “An incomplete transition: Overcoming the legacy of exclusion in South Africa”, the World Bank’s 147-page report said inter alia: “South Africa has come a long way since the advent of democracy, but its transition remains incomplete” because “the highly skewed distribution of land and productive assets is a source of inequality and social fragility, fueling contestation over resources.”

It thus backed the South African government’s view that: “No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remains in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government.”

Interestingly, like Fox News, the OAN when reporting the story criticised the World Bank for “controversially” supporting an “anti-White” land expropriation without compensation programme that would lead to “White genocide” in South Africa. Perhaps they were casting their minds back to what happened to the Native Americans when the White settlers took their land and did in fact commit genocide against them. An estimated 10m Native Indians were exterminated, the majority of them through diseases such as smallpox distributed through ‘gifts’ of blankets or starvation through the mass slaughter of their main source of food, the buffalo.

Perhaps there is an unconscious fear of karma – or divine retribution in this over-the-top reaction to land redistribution in South Africa.

Hypocrisy towards land reform

The West, its media houses and multilateral financial institutions know that in countries like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, where skewed land tenure systems were imposed by powerful minority groups on powerless majorities, land reform has always been a necessity for economic growth and prosperity.

For example, General Douglas MacArthur, the American war hero who ruled Japan from 1945 to 1949, launched a land reform programme between 1947 and 1949 that saw approximately 1,900,000 hectares or 38% of Japan’s cultivated land, purchased from feudal landlords and 1,860,000 hectares resold at generous rates to the peasant farmers who had worked the land under the feudal landlords.

By 1950, 89% of all agricultural land in Japan was owner-operated and only 11% was tenant-operated. This formed the basis for the economic prosperity that Japan enjoys today. MacArthur’s land reform in Taiwan was as successful as in Japan and became the basis of Taiwan’s economic miracle.

Other countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere have used land reform as the foundation for economic prosperity. For the West to oppose land reform in Africa is the height of hypocrisy. And it must stop. Now!

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Written by Baffour Ankomah

Baffour Ankomah is New African's current Editor at Large. He has spent much of his 39 years of journalism at the magazine, having served as its Assistant Editor for 6 years, Deputy Editor for 5 years, and Editor for 15 years, retiring from active service in 2014. In 39 years of his journalism career - Africa and his many causes have been his passion. His personal column, Baffour's Beefs, which has been running continuously in New African since 1987, is a big hit and a must-read for the magazine's worldwide readers. He is now based in Zimbabwe, where he and his wife Elizabeth run their own media consultancy and fashion house called "African Interest" which trades under the trademark "I am African".

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