Calls to expropriate church lands in South Africa

EFF adds churches and traditional tribal leaders to its list of those whose land must be expropriated by the state

South Africa’s radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party has demanded the government seize church-owned properties in its program of land reform.

The far left party with 25 seats in Parliament has driven the ANC government’s actions on land reform. It has called for lands owned by white farmers to be taken without compensation from its owners. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has accused the EFF of being a stalking horse for the ruling ZANU party of Zimbabwe, and seeking to destabilize the country by inflaming racial sentiments. However, the ANC has taken on board some of the EFF’s demands, analysts note, in order to prevent defections from the left wing of its party to the EFF. Under the ANC the once robust South African economy has faltered. Unemployment is at 27.2 per cent while youth unemployment the government reports is currently at 53.7 per cent, while economic growth is expected to fall short of a 2 per cent increase in GDP. The government has sought to increase foreign investment and domestic economic growth, while also giving lip service to the demands of the left.

Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF, has been accused of using racial hatred to garner support from the poor and unemployed. In 2016 he told supporters his party sought to break the economic power of whites in South Africa, but he was “not yet” calling for their“slaughter”. He has singled out Jews for opprobrium, telling reporters in August: “There’s a group of white right-wingers who are being trained by Jews in Pretoria to be snipers” to kill blacks.

On 16 Sept 2018 Sam Matiase a spokesman for the EFF claimed that church lands should be treated the same way as lands held by white farmers and by traditional tribal leaders.

“All that land must be put under the custody of the state for the benefit of people. Church land should be treated the same way as the land held by private individuals.”

The Roman Catholic, Anglican, Dutch Reformed, Methodist and other churches would be subject to expropriation of their properties, Matiase said.

In August US President Donald Trump outraged the left in the United States by posting a tweet questioning the proposals put forward by the South African government to use race as the criteria for dispossessing people from their land.

On 22 Aug 2018 he wrote:

I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews

10:28 PM – Aug 22, 2018

The president’s remarks were condemned in left-leaning opinion pages as being wrongheaded. However, South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa (pictured) withdrew the land seizure bill from parliament on 29 August 2018, stating that it needed redrafting.

N.b. This article has been updated to note the cprrect number of seats held in the National Assemby by the EFF.

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