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Calm down to a mild panic

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HOWARD FELDMAN

Of course, any discussion about land reform is scary. Of course, I am filled with fear at the thought of the Black First Land First Movement removing me from my 1 350 square meters in Fairmount Ridge (Glenhazel for re-sale purposes), whilst CAP stands by helplessly.

But it’s actually not going to happen. I am not moving. Not without Jawitz or Vered. Or maybe a private sale on Property24, if one is good at that sort of thing. No one, I assure you, is going to subsistence farm on my kid’s volleyball court, even though it’s not a terrible idea.

We genuinely need to keep it together. The stress is just not good for us. And it’s most definitely not healthy.

And while we are at it, we should probably also stop with the white-genocide nonsense. It is truly abhorrent when one person is murdered. Anywhere. But screaming that this is a deliberate attempt to rid the platteland of anyone pink is honestly ridiculous. Yes, murders are happening on farms, as they are all over the country. And it’s appalling. Farmers are isolated, and they are vulnerable, and they are deserving of protection and care. But calling it a genocide makes it something it isn’t.

What’s worse is that we know that when we do that, we look at the problem incorrectly. We lose sight of reality, and we move further away from solving it. One should also mention the inconvenient fact that farm murders are at a twenty-year low. Yep. A twenty-year low.

No less than 16 people sent me an article published in The Guardian detailing the “first farm to be expropriated”. Had they taken the time to read it, they would have noted that the conflict over this farm has gone on for no less than 10 years. In other words, it has nothing to do with the new law that isn’t even a new law. And that the farm in question is not being expropriated without compensation. In fact, the very issue at the heart of the dispute is the compensation quantum. So, there goes that theory.

Further, the South African Constitution has actually allowed for this, and it is merely being clarified for our convenience. Think of it as one would Israel’s nationality law. It changes nothing, but makes a big racket.

That is not to say that we should not take this conversation seriously. Land ownership and land security is one of the key tenets of a functioning and successful economy. No one invests in a place where there is a risk that they could lose their investment.

Add to that the history of corruption that South Africa has suffered at the hands of government, it is not surprising that people are concerned. They have every right to be. Without the confidence of knowing that this isn’t going to go the way of Estina Dairy Farm, South Africans can hardly be expected to jump on board this train.

The reality is that as Jews, we are well placed to understand the yearning for land. We should be able to empathise and to identify. But we can’t if we are beyond reason.

We also need to accept that the conversation around land reform was one that we always needed to have. We need to do it soberly, and without the histrionics that will kill to us way before the Economic Freedom Fighters do.

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