President Jacob Zuma has called on parliament to change South Africa’s constitution to allow the expropriation of white owned land without compensation.
Mr Zuma, 74, who made the remarks in a speech yesterday/FRI morning, said he wanted to establish a “pre-colonial land audit of land use and occupation patterns” before changing the law.
“We need to accept the reality that those who are in parliament where laws are made, particularly the black parties, should unite because we need a two-thirds majority to effect changes in the constitution,” he said.
Mr Zuma, who has lurched from one scandal to another since being elected to office in 2009, has adopted a more populist tone since his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party suffered its worst election result last August since the end of apartheid in 1994. …
Remember that funny video I posted of a riot by red-shirted South African members of parliament?
Zuma didn’t think it was amusing. He’s decided to co-opt the redshirts’ platform:
The ANC is also under pressure from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema.
Mr Malema has been travelling the country urging black South Africans to take back land from white invaders and “Dutch thugs”.
He told parliament this week that his party wanted to “unite black people in South Africa” to expropriate land without compensation.
“People of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you,” he said.
Next door in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe launched a similar strategy in 2000 of egging on his supporters to Occupy white-owned farms.
Now, you might think this was not a wise policy, what with the subsequent inflation and the government of Zimbabwe having to print up 100,00,000,000,000 dollar bills.
But, from the perspective of the now 93-year-old Mugabe, it’s now 17 years later and he is still President of Zimbabwe.
Are you president of a country?
I didn’t think so.
When you are in your 38th year in power, Mr. Mugabe will be happy to listen to your advice. Until then …
Now that I think about it, this development in South Africa might help explain why the Pundit Class (e.g., Richard Cohen of the NYT) has been so berserk over the global growth of populism. The populists in America aren’t actually going to come for the bankers and diamond merchants with pitchforks and flaming tires.
But the populists someday might in South Africa. (Of course, initially they’ll come for Boer farmers.)
South Africa’s role in world history is a rather curious one. It’s immense inequality meant that it generated a surplus of wealth that could be directed to influence politics in imperial capitals.
For example, Georgetown professor Carroll Quigley was convinced that the proteges of Cecil Rhodes, such as Alfred Milner, had conspired to exercise an outsized role in British politics into the 1930s. One of Quigley’s more outlandish assertions is that the Milner conservative cabal had controlled the Encyclopedia Britannica, which you could tell by looking at the entries for its members. I looked up the entry in the 1971 edition for Rhodes’ Joshua, Colonel Leander Jameson, and, yeah, it read like Quigley wasn’t crazy.
J.A. Hobson and V.I. Lenin wrote their separate books Imperialism inspired by South Africa.
William Manchester’s vivid biography of Winston Churchill includes a chapter on Winston living large in the late 1930s at his country estate of Chartwell.
But … how could Churchill afford that on his journalistic earnings?
The short answer is Churchill couldn’t afford his spendaholic lifestyle. He was on the verge of having to sell Chartwell in 1938 to avoid bankruptcy when Austrian-born South African zillionaire Sir Henry Strakosch, the chairman of The Economist, secretly bailed Churchill out so he could concentrate on fighting appeasement of Hitler.