New South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for it in his response to the State of the Nation Address. Now, South Africa is one step closer to taking the land of White farmers without compensation. By a vote of 241 to 83, the Parliament moved to amend the constitution to allow the process to move forward.
The proposal was brought forward by Julius Malema, a leader of the radical Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters. It was supported by President Cyril Ramaphosa and his African Nation Congress (ANC) party. They point to historic injustice to justify the move. Although the percentage of arable land owned by non-Whites in South Africa has grown since the end of Apartheid, Whites still own more than two-thirds of the arable land. Malema put it bluntly, “the time for reconciliation is over.”
Amending the constitution will take some time, but could be completed before the end of the year. If the proposal does pass, it will almost certainly be disastrous for South Africa. Based on Zimbabwe’s “fast track” land reforms as well as nearly every other instance Marxism-inspired property theft, there is every reason to expect agricultural output will plummet. Famine will follow. Additionally, the racial motivations behind the program will likely inspire even greater ethnic tensions and violence.
South African President calls for uncompensated land redistribution
Cyril Ramaphosa recently became president of South Africa after his predecessor was removed from office for corruption. In one of his first public addresses as president, Ramaphosa laid out his vision for South Africa in his response to the State of the Nation Address (SONA). He mentioned many initiatives for helping the poor of South Africa, and preventing violence against women and children.
While most of his response to the State of the Nation focused on social justice and consensus-building, one proposal was very worrying. Ramaphosa called for the “expropriation of land without compensation” to help with the redistribution of land to “Black South Africans.” He stressed that while this was one proposal that was being considered, it would be implemented in a way that would “promote agricultural production.” This would just be one element in a much larger economic development program.
The president went on to say that they would “not make the mistakes that other have made.” This was clearly a reference to Zimbabwe, which famously “redistributed” the land of white farmers with disastrous results. The former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, “fast tracked” land reform starting in 2000. Nearly all the commercial farms were shut down. As a result, agricultural production dropped off dramatically. Famine and economic collapse quickly followed.
It is unclear how Ramaphosa will avoid the same fate as Zimbabwe. His claim that he would not allow “smash and grab interventions” which were the hallmark of the Zimbabwe program. But even without the violence, the Zimbabwean scheme would have been economically devastating. Not only does uncompensated expropriation have short-term consequences for those who have had their property stolen, government-sanctioned theft invariably slows foreign investment and domestic economic development. Who would invest in a property knowing it might be taken away at any moment?
You can watch the full speech below.
Putin celebrates Epiphany with the traditional icy plunge
Today is the Russian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany. Epiphany is a different holiday in the East compared with Western branches of Christianity. In the West, Epiphany is celebrated on January 12, and marks when the wise men (or magi) met Jesus. For the Orthodox Church, Epiphany marks the baptism of Jesus and is celebrated on the 19th.
In that spirit, Russians head to lakes and streams to reenact that critical moment in the life of Jesus. The subzero temperatures deter few of the faithful, who plunge into the blessed waters for a ritualistic cleansing. Among those who took part this year was none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. You can watch him take part below.
Israel issues travel ban on 20 non-government organizations over pro-Palestinian boycotts
On Sunday, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs published a list of 20 specific non-government organizations (NGOs) now forbidden to enter the country. These organizations were associated with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), which supports boycotts of Israel as a state and other actions as a means of protesting Israel’s treatment of Palestine.
“Forming the list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organizations, and no state would allow visitors who come to harm the state to enter it, and certainly with the goal of destroying Israel as a Jewish state,” Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan told the press.
The proscribed organizations include the BDS organizations from France, Italy, Chile, and South Africa, BDS national committee, and BDS Kampagne; the France Association Palestine Solidarity, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine, Friends of Al-Aqsa, the Palestine Committee of Norway, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and the Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden from Europe; and American Muslims for Palestine, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, National Students for Justice in Palestine, Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee from the United States. “Friends” is another name for the Quakers, a Christian sect with egalitarianism as a central tenet. Officials from these organizations and any activist known to be associated may be barred from entering Israel. Other public figures who advocate boycotts of Israel, such as the mayors of towns, may also be denied entry. The American Friends Service Committee was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for its work helping refugees displaced by World War II; principally, noted Israeli newspaper Haaretz, families of Jewish refugees married to non-Jews.
“For me as a Palestinian, it means a lot that they are going to ban me from going to see my family and people. It is absolutely horrible,” said Fatin al-Tamimi, head of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Israeli Minister of the Interior Arye Derry issued a statement: “These people are trying to exploit the law and our hospitality to act against Israel and to defame the country. I will act against this by every means.”
Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of one of the listed groups, Jewish Voice for Peace, responded on Facebook, “As someone with considerable family in Israel, this policy will be a personal hardship. But I am also heartened by this indicator of the BDS movement’s growing strength, and hope that it will bring the day closer when just as I go to visit my friends and family in Israel, so will Palestinian friends and colleagues be able to return home.”
Human rights groups sharply criticized the prohibition as opposing free speech.
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