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Here In Africa: South Africa In Transition

“An elderly friend’s son, owner of a large and prosperous mixed farm not far from Johannesburg, is in the process of moving from South Africa, as fears of land-grabs and nationalization grow stronger,’’ writes Barbara Durlacher. “He, and a group of other local farmers are setting the process in motion to lease a huge tract of prime farming land in Angola, where – with the help of several trusted farm managers who will live on the property - they plan to run the new farms, while continuing to operate their South African properties as they wait for the blow to fall here.’’

Yes, once more land-grabs are threatening this country in the same way they ruined the Zimbabwean economy, and it seems that before long the problems that drove the white farmers from their land in our lovely northern neighbour are rearing their ugly heads here.

All we’ve been hearing about for years in Zimbabwe is on its way to South Africa and in addition, there’s very well-supported talk of nationalizing the gold and platinum mines, the banks and the big corporations. This, despite the fact that our Constitution, universally agreed to be one of the best in the world, contains clauses to prevent this very kind of victimization and unequal distribution of wealth and property and protects owners who have legally bought their homes and farms. Nevertheless, young political activists are openly declaring they will change the law and grab whatever they want, and “the divil take the hindmost.”

So, once again the sad story of Africa repeats itself. Greed, corruption, huge disparities between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” overfed politicians and plutocrats. Squeezed into tight imported clothes, driving fabulously expensive German cars, patronizing the most exclusive night-clubs and restaurants where they spend the night drinking imported Scotch whisky and fine French wines while supping on prize imported delicacies these venal “skelms*” are all determined to take as much as they can while ignoring the pitiful plight of the uneducated poor. No need to elaborate, we all know the story…

To return to my friend’s farmer son. When I first heard of his plans, at a time when his destination was the DRC rather than Angola, I felt he was taking an enormous chance, especially if he did not plan to live permanently on his new farm, but intended to commute between South Africa and the Congo with only a manager in residence as the group tried to wrest a livelihood from the virgin ground. It seems good senses prevailed as far as the Congo was concerned, and the farmers have now decided to take up a 99-year leasehold offer from Angola instead.

I was vastly relieved then, to watch Jonathan Dimbleby’s program Amazing Africa, which gave fascinating footage of Zambia, Angola’s next door neighbour. For the first time, I was able to see the enormous rolling plains of beautiful arable land, running with game, fine trees and birds, with an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit and contented friendly people.
If the ambitious and far-sighted farmers have even the slightest degree of luck and good fortune, it seems to me they have made a wise decision. God willing, and with plenty of hard-work, the expenditure of a fair bit of capital and consistently rainy seasons, there is absolutely no reason why they should not be wonderfully successful and that they will be able to live out their lives in the kind of peace and security that is no longer something the whites can take for granted in South Africa, our fair country.


skelms - a person with a bad reputation, a scoundrel and a thief


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