The controversial initiative to seize white-owned farms without compensation was proposed by the Marxist “Economic Freedom Fighters” (EFF) and quickly picked up by the ruling African National Congress (ANC),which argues that it needs to act in order to resolve the massive racial disparity in property ownership. Neighboring Zimbabwe attempted almost the exact same thing around the turn of the century but it failed for many reasons, though its new government is now reversing this policy and is instead seeking to court white farmers back to the country. The new South African government, meanwhile, is doing the opposite in what can only be regarded as an attempt to rejuvenate interest in the party by returning it to its Marxist roots, something that its strategists might believe can help it electorally in next year’s elections.
Moreover, it should be said that President Cyril Ramaphosa might have more ulterior intentions in mind as well, since he himself came to power on the back of a so-called “deep state” coup in first becoming the party’s leader under contentious circumstances late last year and then soon thereafter replacing former President Zuma under a similarly controversial context. He might want to distract the masses from this “politically inconvenient” fact in order to build up greater “legitimacy” for himself. In addition, this new measure might take the population’s attention away from inter–tribal and xenophobic violence by temporarily uniting the country around a common cause that can easily mobilize the racial majority on economic pretexts, even if most of them never see any tangible benefit from these forthcoming land seizures.
One of the unintended aftereffects of the “successful” execution of this policy is that it might scare away international investors who could fear that Ramaphosa might expand what they view to be his extreme “economic nationalism” to the point of potentially nationalizing foreign companies in the future, possibly due to “bottom-up” pressure from the EFF and their “street supporters”. Once certain socio-economic policies such as racially targeted land seizure without compensation are unleashed, it could be very difficult to control them because they naturally inspire the disadvantaged majority of the country to dream big with unrealistically high hopes, sometimes causing a chain reaction that leads to the most unpredictable of consequences for the initiators of the said policy.