South African president Jacob Zuma this week called for the confiscation of land owned by white people in his country — without any restitution made to the Caucasian property owners.
In a speech given Friday morning, Zuma said the proposal would be the result of establishing a “pre-colonial land audit of land use and occupation patterns” that would determine what land needs to be taken. The move would require an overwhelming majority in parliament to change the law to allow the expropriation, according to The Telegraph.
“We need to accept the reality that those who are in parliament where laws are made, particularly the black parties, should unite because we need a two-thirds majority to effect changes in the constitution,” the South African president argued.
Zuma had previously mentioned the land grab in a speech to parliament last month, but this week marked the first time he had explicitly called for altering the law to do so.
The proposal appears to be a response to the declining fortunes of Zuma’s political party, the African National Congress (ANC), whose long reign of power in the post-apartheid era is being challenged by rising parties.
The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), headed by former ANC leader Julius Malema, is one of the parties gaining ground on Zuma’s party and is fully in favor of confiscating white-owned land without compensation.
Malema has long voiced anti-white hatred and support for seizing white-owned land going back to his days as an ANC youth leader. Recently, he has been traveling the country to advocate for the land seizure from white invaders and “Dutch thugs,” according to The Telegraph.
The EFF chief believes the measure will “unite black people in South Africa.” “People of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you,” Malema said in the proposal’s favor.
However, a South African research group says it is “almost impossible” to find a racial breakdown of land ownership in the country.
“In the first place the state owns some 22 percent 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 Institute for Race Relations said in a statement. “This leaves around 78 percent of land in private hands, but the race of these private owners is not known.”
Additionally, the proposed land grab has the potential to ignite racial conflict in the country only 23 years separated from apartheid. Some Afrikaner groups have called Zuma’s proposal a “declaration of war” and vowed to fight against any potential land seizure.
“We are ready to fight back,” Andries Breytenbach, the chairman of the Boer Afrikaner Volksraad, asserted, according to The Telegraph. “We need urgent mediation between us and the government. If this starts, it will turn into a racial war which we want to prevent.”
South Africa’s neighbor Zimbabwe has enacted similar legislation that has allowed the government to seize white-owned land without compensation. Malema has praised Zimbabwe’s action numerous times, but the move cost the country billions of dollars in lost production and led to a wide-scale agricultural collapse.