Whites fear Mugabe-style evictions as South Africa seizes first farm

South Africa has seized its first farm - in the clearest indication yet that it is bowing to growing pressure to redistribute land to majority blacks.

Black pressure groups and trade unions have been threatening to begin invading farms unless the government moved quickly to redistribute land.

Among many of South Africa's 50,000-plus white commercial farmers, this first land expropriation by President Thabo Mbeki's government echoes Robert Mugabe's violent land seizures in neighbouring Zimbabwe where at least 4,000 farmers have been evicted from their land, leading to the collapse of that country's economy.

But among blacks dispossessed of their land in 300 years of apartheid, the move marks the beginning of a new era to correct skewed landownership patterns.

White farmers and white-dominated groups still control 90 per cent of prime farmland while blacks remain crowded in barren communal areas.

South African authorities have hitherto moved cautiously on land reform, fearing that any forced seizures will rattle investors afraid of a repeat of a Zimbabwe style situation.

Yet there is also growing recognition that equity in landownership within a reasonable time is unachievable without resort to some "strong arm" tactics to dispossess landowners who will not easily give up what they have already amassed.

The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights said in a statement yesterday that the first expropriation order of the gigantic 25,200-hectare farm owned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Africa (ELCSA) in South Africa's Northern Cape Province came into effect on 26 January. The government will take full possession of the farm for resettlement next month. The government has paid £2.1m for the land although the ELCSAhad wanted more than £5m which it says is the true value of the land.

The fact that Mr Mbeki's government is paying compensation for the land has at least mollified analysts who deem it unfair to compare South Africa's land reform with Zimbabwe's. Maans Nel, spokesman of the main opposition Democratic Alliance said his party's position was that the state should only expropriate as a last resort where negotiations would fail. "There are a lot of other ways to get land... At least four million hectares are coming on the open market every year," said Mr Nel.

The South Africa government has recently hardened its stance on land reforms, accusing white farmers of frustrating negotiations by demanding high prices.

Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana announced last year that she was setting a six-month deadline for price negotiations with farmers after which any targeted farms would be expropriated. Mrs Xingwana has recently been engaged in harsh verbal exchanges with the white farmers after accusing some of them of sexually abusing farm workers and treating them like slaves. The government's critics, however, say white recalcitrance is not the only reason for delays in reallocating land. Bureaucratic sluggishness in negotiations is also to blame .

The ELCSA's farm has been expropriated under a land restitution law that allows blacks evicted from their ancestral lands during apartheid to apply to have their rights restored or to ask for financial compensation.

The church's land was claimed by 471 local families, among them workers on the farm. But the Transvaal Agricultural Union, which represents most white farmers, is against expropriation. One member questioned the principle that land should be redistributed to blacks saying whites took large areas of unoccupied land when they first arrived at the Cape in 1652 to begin their colonisation.

"There were no dispossessions. Our ancestors found vast areas of unoccupied land and introduced modern agricultural methods. Now we are being asked to give back that land. Why?" he questioned.

Such seemingly racist perspectives are widespread among a clique of hardline Afrikaners who still refuse to accept the reality of being ruled by blacks.

Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition