THE CURSE OF THE COVENANT IN SOUTH AFRICA
....AND ITS INTERNAL CAPTIVITY*
Gospel Defence League, Sea Point, Republic of South Africa April/May 2004
"And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them... they could no longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed ... yet they would not hearken unto [the Lord]" - (Judges 2:14-17)
IN April 2004, the first "Decade of Democracy" was celebrated in Israelitish South Africa. Following the third democratic elections, Thabo Mbeki was inaugurated as State President on April 27, 2004 for his second 5-year term. Ninety-eight countries were represented at the ceremony. Thirty-eight heads of state were present, among them President Mugabe of Zimbabwe [former Rhodesia] who was enthusiastically welcomed as a hero. President Mbeki is dedicated to nation building to fight poverty, and working for a better life for all. One aspect of this is the redistribution of wealth and land. The ANC's "Freedom Charter" demands that "The land shall be shared among those who work it!"; and the government wants to "hand over 30% [25.9 million hectares] of predominantly white commercial farmland to emerging black farmers by 2020."(1) A law passed last year  "will allow the government to expropriate land for restitution where negotiations on a 'willing buyer, willing seller' basis fail."(2)
A new book, The Great South African Land Scandal, deals with "the possibility that South Africa could go the same way as Zimbabwe." The author Dr Philip du Toit, is an attorney and specialist on land reform and labour law. In his Foreword, he says:
Stories about the collapse of farms handed over to emerging farmers under the government's land reform programme have circulated for some time. But over the last two years the desecration of some of South Africa's productive farmland has increased to such an extent that land is being taken out of production at an alarming rate.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD
Now, we pray to God daily asking, "Give us this day our daily bread, " and in doing so,
"We acknowledge that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve tobe wholly deprived of them by God... We pray for ourselves and others, that we, waiting upon the providence of God. .. may enjoin a competent portion of them"(3)
Indeed, God has blessed South Africa with food. The country produces enough to feed 100 million people in Southern Africa - even though 27% of the land is mostly drought-stricken and only 12% suitable for cultivation. Food production needs a high level of expertise and is impossible without prayer and hard work. God's words to Adam still apply:
In toil you shall eat of it [the ground] all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you... till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken - (Genesis 3:17).
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN FLOURISHING FARMS ARE HANDED OVER TO 'EMERGING FARMERS'?
In February of 2001, in a R43 million land agreement, Ms. Thoko Didiza handed over the 1400 hectare Letsitelee Valley farm near Tsaneen to 1500 people of the Mamathola tribe. These farms had a turnover of R15 million a year, and the tribe was given R4.5 million as operating capital. But after the takeover, none of them came to the farm to live on the land. Instead, they elected a committee who paid themselves a monthly salary of R12,000 each. They did not farm either. Two years later, investigators found that the
"Avocado trees were dying of thirst. While the farm dam was full, the pipes from the dam were broken - there was apparently no money to fix them ... The mango trees' spring blossoms were out, but these trees were not watered either. The papayas hung from dry trunks, while grass and weeds grew between the expertly laid out plantation rows ... Three state-of-the-art packing sheds were empty, loose crates lying about. There was not a soul to be seen. Electricity had been cut off so the cooling rooms didn't work ... As we drove through this once beautiful farm, we came upon neglected macadamia groves. Thousands and thousands of macadamia nuts lay under the trees, unharvested. These are the most expensive nuts on the market. South Africa's macadamia export production goes mainly to the United States where consumers can afford them... Further on, a citrus orchard's trees gasped for water in the searing heat. These 'ghost farms' are appearing all over South Africa ... The farming equipment which had been handed over in pristine condition was virtually unusable, but the R12,000 a month salaries were still taken until the farm operation was placed under judicial managementl"(4 )
Before the handover to the Mamathola tribe, the Valley's 3,000 hectares of intensive fruit orchards had brought in tens of millions of rands in foreign currency every year and supported a labour force of between 2,000 and 3,000 black workers plus their families.
A similar fate befell the farm Zebediela, the world's biggest citrus estate in the Limpopo Province. It used to be called "the diamond of agricultural projects," and in 1978 the Readers' Digest in its Illustrated Guide to South Africa, wrote,
Nearly 400 million oranges are harvested each year ... At the height of the season, about 15,000 cases of oranges leave Zebediela every day. The fruit comes from more than 565,000 trees irrigated by enough water to supply a city ... (p. 122).
The harvest was worth R30 million a year. But after its handover to the Agricultural and Rural Development Corporation of the ruling ANC government, the estate suffered a loss of R30 million in 2000 and of R35 million in 2001.The press reported that it was "beyond recovery". A lemon yield worth R8 million was left to rot because there was no money to pay staff. In March of 2001, ABSA Bank stopped all credit and bounced a pension cheque of R56 million. The seller farmers had been only too ready to help the new owners, but their help was rejected.
Some land claims are historically questionable. In fact, the SA Institute of Race Relations asks:
"Do we have a land problem in South Africa?... The 30% target for redistribution has been put in place with no evidence of actual demand for rural land and could have major implications for commercial agriculture"(5)
In the past 30 years, the number of commercial farmers of all races has, in fact, decreased from 70,000 to less than 35,000. In The Great South African Land Scandal, Dr du Toit concludes:
"The government's promise to return the land to the people as outlined in the Freedom Charter is an invitation to famine" (p. 250).
SQUATTER INVASION, INTIMIDATION, FARM KILLINGS AND ARSON
The book describes agricultural decline in al lprovinces, but the situation seems most serious in Gauteng and Natal. A farmer in Kranskop, Natal, lost four of his family members to farm murders. In his area, eleven farmers were killed. Since 1994, altogether 1,600 farmers suffered cattle and crop theft, intimidation, arson, and land invasions. Self-appointed chieftains sell plots of farmland which do not belong to them. In the past few years, in Kranskop alone, farmers abandoned 14 commercial farms of more than 10,000 hectares to masses of squatters. Because of the failure of the police, farmers in KwaZuluNatal pay R60 million a year to security companies. Stock theft amounts to about R120 million a year, and the government loses around R100 million per annum in taxation as a result of besieged and abandoned farms.
THE ROAD TO POVERTY
Can the country sustain such heavy losses in food production? Are we not committed to a better life for all? Why do we reject God's rich providence? He has "blessed the fruit of our land, our corn, and our wine, and our oil, and the flocks of our sheep" - (Deuteronomy 7:13). He has given us "rain in due season". The land could "yield her increase, and the trees of the field could yield their fruit" - (Leviticus 26:4). Dr du Toit also deplores that,
"until the present government came to power, South Africa was not only a leading player in agricultural research in Africa but indeed in the world. Many of its institutes were world famous - Onderstepoort for example was South Africa and Africa's most prestigious veterinary science research institution"(p. 209).
But because of lack of subsidies, world class veterinarians have left the institute - among them researchers in vaccination, tuberculosis, foot and mouth, and tropical diseases, etc.
Last year, 400 researchers withdrew their services from the Agricultural Research Council (p. 212). The ARC provides knowledge. for agriculture and animal care, from tropical and sub-tropical crops to animal nutrition, to soil, climate and water research. It also does critical work to improve the quality and safety of food.
"South Africa is, at the moment playing dangerously with tuberculosis," laments the trade union Solidarity. "The last TB researcher at Onderstepoort resigned last month." TB is transmitted through unpasteurized milk. It is one of the worst transmitted diseases in South Africa and is especially deadly for people with HIV/AIDS (p. 215). Even snap inspections of abattoirs have stopped. There is no one left to analyse samples of meat. "The meat researcher left... " writes Dr du Toit,saying:
"Humans will eventually suffer. If new products come on the market, how will the public know they're safe?" (p.217).
South Africa's needs have long outgrown subsistence farming, such as most 'emerging farmers' practice. It cannot afford the subsistence mentality. It needs agricultural expertise of the highest standard and a work ethic of singular dimensions.
Most of all, it needs to look unto God, the Great Provider, the Giver of all good things. For it is He who through obedient hands "raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, that he may set him with princes" (Psalm 113:7-8).
Amended by the editor, including * changing the title Another story from Today's Captivity
(1) SA Institute of Race Relations, Fast Facts, "Land Reform-What Lies Beneath", May, 2002.
(2) Reuters, "Dispossessed Want 20%of SA Farmland", January 1, 2004.
(3) The Westminster Confession, Question 193: What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
(4) Dr Philip du Toit, The Great South African Land Scandal, Legacy Publications, Private Bag X 122, Centurion 0046, January 2004.
(5) SA Institute of Race Relations, Land reform, op. cit.
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