Friday, October 9, 2009

KwaZulu-Natal Midlands of South Africa

Because we live so close to South Africa, we get a lot of South African programs. The one I like to watch on Sunday night is the news program called Carte Blanche. This week I found this particular program even more interesting than usual:

“From the disastrous land reform of Zimbabwe, to South Africa, where some believe things are heading the same way. A stand-off between farmers and so called land invaders in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands in becoming ugly. Cart Blanche looks at a government program that seems to be falling.”

The program is about the white farmers in the KwaZulu- Natal Midlands and the Land Reform Project. It starts with a story of Colin de Gaspary and the farm he has always dreamed of having and has owned now for 11 years. But now his dream is more like a nightmare, as he has been threatened by thugs who have unlawfully settled on his farm. One evening a fire broke out on his farm and he went to put it out. He was surrounded by some people who severely beat him up with an intention to kill.

This conflict in the midlands goes back decades. The government wanted to redistribute the land but did not follow through. “Land for All” is the slogan for the ruling party at every election. Lots of people have high hopes of getting this land from Land Affairs. Some land has been given to the people but it is not usable for farming. The Land Reform Project has failed since 49% of the distribution is not working out and only 33% is a success.

One of the examples of this failure is that when the Land Reform Project bought once thriving Craigie Burn dairy farm and gave it to the Zibukwe Trustees. But there are no cows! How can a dairy farm make a profit without cows?! So now the trustees are poorer as owners of the farm than when they were mere workers.

Farmers around the midlands are threatened, beaten, shot, and their houses are burned and taken away brick by brick!

The Land Reform Project is trying to put everything back on track and provide better leadership. If things are not taken care of there will be more violence and killing!

People think that if they only had that farmer’s land things would be so much better. But do they consider the funds needed to support this farm? Like in the example of the dairy farm, if they had worked there before they should have known that it will not be productive without cows. Everybody wants land and will go to any lengths to get it, but what then, expect the government to help out at every turn?

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