One of the many hot-button issues in South African politics has to do with land - who owns it, who gets to use it, who should be in charge. Slogans and rhetoric fly around without much pause for thought, and if you were to take social media at its word, South Africa is a deeply dispossessed nation with no sense of identity or belonging, and it's all due to a dearth of land ownership.
I don't think that's true.
If you're just waking up to the debates around the land issue, a good place to start will be with a few facts. This article by Max du Preez is a solid introduction to the actual gains South Africa has made, and some of the political context that explains why this is an issue.
Unfortunately, that's not where the battle is being fought - long-form opinion columns are not nearly as rapid or viral as social media. It's too easy to spread an idea that sounds and feels like it might be right, without stopping to check whether or not it's factual.
Since this keeps coming up in the national conversation (and since the quoted statistics are almost always incorrect), I'm going to use this section of Observation Point to keep track of how the conversation is going.
There are a handful of popular, fallacious claims I plan on addressing:
- 90% of the land is owned by whites - Published
- You have a Constitutional right to land
- Without land, you have no rights
- Without land, you cannot live a dignified life
- Without land, you cannot survive
These claims have popped up in conversations in some form or another. They make for salacious talking points and emotively-charged arguments, but are devoid of fact. And if we're to start establishing some sort of common ground, we need the facts.