South Africa is teetering on the brink of a race war after President Jacob Zuma called on parliament to pass a law allowing white-owned land to be “confiscated” by blacks without any form of compensation.
The president’s comments caused outrage among white landowners, with the chairman of a national group for Afrikaans speaking farmers warning the new law will be “a declaration of war.”
“We are ready to fight back,” said Andries Breytenbach, the group’s chairman. “We need urgent mediation between us and the government. If this starts, it will turn into a racial war which we want to prevent.”The Telegraph report: Mr Zuma has lurched from one scandal to another since being elected to office in 2009, and 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.
The party lost the economic hub of Johannesburg, the capital Pretoria and the coastal city of Port Elizabeth to the moderate Democratic Alliance party, which already held the city of Cape Town.
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. Although progress has been made in transferring property to black South Africans, land ownership is believed to be skewed in favour of whites more than 20 years after the end of apartheid.
The Institute of Race Relations, an independent research body, said that providing a racial breakdown of South Africa’s rural landowners was “almost impossible”.
“In the first place the state owns some 22 per cent of the land in the country, including land in the former homelands, most of which is occupied by black subsistence farmers who have no title and seem unlikely to get it any time soon,” the group said.
“This leaves around 78 per cent of land in private hands, but the race of these private owners is not known.”
Mr Zuma’s comments caused outrage among groups representing Afrikaans speaking farmers on Friday.
The Boer Afrikaner Volksraad, which claims to have 40,000 members, said its members would take land expropriation without compensation as “a declaration of war”.
“We are ready to fight back,” said Andries Breytenbach, the group’s chairman. “We need urgent mediation between us and the government. If this starts, it will turn into a racial war which we want to prevent.”