Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), refers to the Agrarian Land Reform as the way forward. The Cambodian tyrant Pol Pot and the connection with the words uttered by Julius Malema draw a parallel of a strong land reform that can lead to genocide.
It was during 1975 when Pol Pot (Khmer) rose to power and presided over a communist dictatorship that imposed a radical form of agrarian socialism in Cambodia. Urban dwellers were forced to relocate to the countryside and work on farms and forced labor projects. This resulted in malnutrition, medical problems and deaths of the people during his four-year reign.
Malema appears to love to flaunt his power and wealth, surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards that make one believe he is wrestling a war. His unsubtle threat against the white Afrikaner organization, which brought charges against him for his hate speech over the song Shoot the Boer, and his remarks against this group are similar to agrarian laws. Malema went on to say that, the Boer’s would end up massacred as the Inkatha Freedom Party marchers did in 1995 outside the Shell House killings.
The flamboyance displayed by Malema and his violent speech does not imply a compassionate leader of the people. Malema said South Africa can learn about land reform from Zimbabwe, and he did add that a violent method of attacking landowners should not be the only way for reform to work.
Government initiated or backed redistribution of land defines a general redirection of the agrarian system of the country. The agrarian reform will include credit measures, training and land consolidations. Where land reform is concerned with the rights in land, character, strength and distribution, the agrarian reform focuses on the same elements but on a broader set of issues. Agrarian reform is concerned with economic and political power and the relations between the two and how this connects to the wider class structure.
Malema on his land reform policies to give back the land to the people would be equal redistribution, and that would end the sufferings. A peaceful event will not be achieved if expropriation without compensation is sought. Revolutionary actions have occurred in countries who expropriated land without compensation.
Malema’s plan for agrarian reform to provide land to the poorer class of people would allow people to grow food and wealth for themselves. The back to the land movement among the poor is not progressive. Rather this would be reversing the prosperity of agriculture and is not sought by the majority. Today, many of the youth are not attracted to farming and seek alternative employment. The caring of livestock and crops is hard work that requires commitment and passion.
Earlier generations planted crops and managed a smallholding comfortably thereby providing for their family and sometimes selling the surplus to markets and generating an income. Today, the small holding farming communities have dwindled as country dwellers move to the big cities in search of a more lucrative life. People dwelling in urban areas seldom plant crops and find this laborious and time-consuming.
Bringing the smallholding or subsistence farming back to the people of South Africa is a difficult task, and Malema would know the amount of time needed to tend to a crop or livestock on a daily basis. The farmers who passionately work long and tedious hours produce food to feed the nation and enough for export. Thereby generating income both personally and for government.
Malema often refers to the Zimbabwe land reform and history has shown that the agriculture sector is destroyed. It is the inspiration drawn from the Zimbabwe reforms, that prompt Malema to proceed with the agrarian reform and offer land to the people free. People will accept this generous offer and in return extend a vote for Malema’s party.
Free land will not compensate the country’s loss, and as the land lays barren in Zimbabwe so the land will become in South Africa. Malema talks about an agricultural revolution and his firm belief that Zimbabwe land reform is a way forward will push up the imports of maize to feed the people as the land becomes unproductive.
Will Malema push for his agrarian reforms and allow the land of South Africa to turn into another disaster or will he move to implement profitable farming measures. The newest technology available makes farming a lot easier and does increase productivity, efficiency and profitability. Protecting the earth and its limited resources should be the top priority.
The people, who have nothing, want something. The people have political freedom, a democratic right to vote and choose their own government. After 20 years, their political freedom did not generate prosperity and are aware that they have nothing more than they did when they voted in 1994. The majority of people know that the farms in South Africa are owned primarily by white people who still have their land and wealth. This creates a problem and people want economic freedom, they want money, and jobs. The people want the land, and even if they cannot farm, there is an alternative to sell and raise money. The people want the economic freedom of being rich and not working for a white owned companies or bosses.
The majority do not understand economic freedom and do not realize that wealth is created or the foundations of wealth creation. Hard work, education, skills are the foundations to wealth creation. The opportunity for education and the study or references to the failed socialism and communism would inform the average citizen. Pol Pot and his agrarian reforms led to genocide and people should have the opportunity of understanding economic freedom.
Malema is portrayed as a survivor, a wealthy man who speaks loudly to the rich and powerful who survived the onslaught of political disaster. The people believe Malema and the desperation of wanting to escape a life of poverty has nothing to lose by voting for his party. The agrarian reform or the agriculture disaster of Zimbabwe means nothing to the masses that are restless and desperate for a change.
Malema is the champion of the poor; he exploits the desperation and shouts about the inequalities between the rich and the poor. Malema continues to paint a picture of a champion leader for the poor people of the country. His radical policies and agrarian reforms shout out the dangerous revolutionary aspects of his motivation.
Malema continues to speak the language the poor man understands, his concern that the poverty levels have not changed drastically in the last twenty years and the fact that whites are rich and powerful caused his popularity to boost. It is easier for the masses to understand taking away the land and wealth from the white people than actually working for it. Malema wants a reversal of economic effects.
The real threat is education and Julius Malema fails to see the connection between wealth and education. After twenty, years, the masses remain uneducated, and the drive to educate people has not progressed enough to form a democracy of economic freedom. Without education, large numbers of people remain poor and jobless and what real dangers are on Malema’s agenda.
Malema is a symptom of the scale of inequality we have and his role model is the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. He speaks the language of freedom and concern for the poor and blames the colonists and imperialist. Even if his policies were to benefit the people of South Africa, his lack of understanding the history and learning from the past would give him a castle on a pile of ashes. His promises and arguments based on emotion rather than reason.
The revolutionary policies of Malema make moral sense to the people, as they do not understand that wealth is a process of education, hard work and having the opportunity to create wealth not take away from another human being. Land reform without compensation or forceful redistribution will cripple the country and leave the majority poorer than before. Pol Pot the rebel leader who tore Cambodia apart with its agrarian reforms is not an inspiration for Julius Malema or the people of South Africa.
By Laura Oneale