Historic SA Land Ownership : A deafening silence in our media!


– Questions to our media community and those who  know-


Land is a sensitive issue, and remains defined in racial tension. It is sensitive since almost two decades in our acclaimed democracy it still dictates a skewed apartheid based ownership. Furthermore, such ownership in this epoch comes defended by a constitution, which we in blackmail-sense are warned not to tamper.


Land is a sensitive issue because the masses still do not own what is rightfully theirs. Land is a sensitive issue simply because they do not make it anymore. 


If this subject of land is so important, why is it not covered and reported on with equal intensity and ferocity it deserves.


Where are the objective studies, investigative research papers, and information on how land was acquired in South Africa particularly by those from European descent? Why do these not filter through our sources of media even in this critical season when contemplation of land claims reopening is tabled? Why do these not make headlines?


Why is it that no media house, investigative journalist, or editor regardless of colour has any interest or appetite to inform the South African populace on the subject of a historic land ownership? Is there an agreed silence exemplified in a somewhat herd-mentality that this subject matter in its naked sense is a taboo, if so why and in whose interest? 


Instead of dealing with this subject, we rather have an estrogenic inspired tussle between a Ferial Haffajee (City Press) and Phylicia Oppelt (Sunday Times) tangled in a sling match as to who is the real prima-donna in print media. 


Sisters, need I remind you, you are both not “white,” and according to the current definition of land ownership in South Africa you are part of those who do not own. You most probably in ancestry are victims of the real land grabs, why the silence when you hold these powerful positions? 


Can you unleash the same vigour (with which you pull each other’s hair in the usual high-school girl drama) into issues of substance and leave the sideshows that came to define both of you? 


Can we hear the objective commentary on land? Certainly, this is a priority, particularly since the SA Constitution Section 25 inherently defends the right of ownership. The same currently used as a legitimate defence of ownership irrespective of history before this history. 


It is amazing that this subject matter is yet not finding its way into our collective mainstream discourse. In whose interest is it that this subject remains reduced to the periphery of our public engagement?


Let us know how vast tracts of land, farms etc., came into the possession of those of European descent? Land was stolen from before 1652 right up until the dawn of our democracy. Land remains stolen regardless to what the constitution may advocate. We must first deal with this grand-scale theft if we meaningfully hope any attempt at addressing the parity of equality in which we all must claim our equal and common humanity.


Can those who “own” unequivocally tell us how, when, from whom, at what price they or their forebears acquired land, the same the SA Constitution now defends? 


No land was brought here on any ship. No land was carried here on an ossewa. No land was brought in by osmosis.  


It cannot be that Zimbabweans are accused of land grabs, when the land always belonged to the Zimbabweans. If anybody stands accused rightfully of any form of land grab, it is the coloniser who it  “acquire” by means still not known land they did not originally own. In fact, who coins terms like ‘land grab’ that Africans willy-nilly regurgitate and embrace? 


Instead, print media spent time and effort on denigrating an ANC government every day. The ANC must shoulder responsibility and own up for the many challenges the post- apartheid era brought.


Yet this national issue is left in abeyance lulling us all to accept this question as irrelevant, out of order and predating the Constitution, which today supersedes everything, rendering historic land ownership, therefore a non- issue. 


It is a darn shame that “black” journalists are uniquely obsessed in this era to uncover ANC rot (rightfully) yet this rot of stolen land fabricated ownership is not investigated. It appears not the interest of any journalist let alone “black” journalists to engage this issue.


We are fed a diet on Anti-ANC diatribe oozing in our daily and weekly newspapers in abundance dictating a narrative of “blacks” as incompetent to govern. The truth is “whites” fundamentally don’t believe any “black” can successfully run this country. That is the prevailing narrative in our democratic era. A narrative in which some believe they are the natural custodians of our democracy. 


I shall ask again that print media and all forms of media please inform us about the true history of ownership of land. Run series upon series on this educate us. We the public want to know. 


Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

    Independent commentator