Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Who's land is SA anyway?

 Thoughts and facts on the landgrabbing trends in South Africa

I AM disagreeably surprised that Business Day saw fit to publish the article by Thando Mgqolozana that called for the occupation of land by force (Land grab the only way to restore justice, January 20). In most countries, dispossessing the legal owner by force is a criminal offence and calling for people to do so, incitement to commit a crime.
His reasoning also shows an ignorance of history, civilisation and economics. Humans originated in Africa and gradually spread out over the globe. One wave of humanity followed another and the first occupiers were soon pushed off their land, killed or enslaved by subsequent waves, this process continuing until well into the 20th century. Mgqolozana seems to assume that land was never forcibly acquired in Africa until the whites arrived. Since the advent of the first humans, there has been a history of forced occupation of land.
The original occupiers, the San, and later the Khoikhoi, began to lose their old hunting and grazing grounds through the influx of African farmers from the north that probably started in 300-500 AD and continued well after the first Europeans arrived at the Cape in the 17th century.
If the Europeans had not arrived, this black African invasion would have reached the Cape.
The question of who today is the rightful owner of land anywhere is extremely difficult to answer and there is probably no universal “right” answer. At first sight, we may consider the land should be returned to its previous occupier. However, as the previous occupiers almost certainly acquired the land themselves forcibly at some stage, do they really have a better claim than the current owners? And at what point do we stop the clock and say that those in possession have good title for the future?
As far as farm land is concerned, the result of land grabbing would surely be that the new owners would have neither the skills nor the finance to work the land economically, causing a severe shortage of food, as in Zimbabwe.
Dr John FW Morgan
Sipplingen, Germany