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Our life is hell! This farm has been in our family for generations. My forefathers struggled from the boat to the South African coastline. I am an old man but what about my two sons? One son says he doesn’t know if he can raise his children on this farm.”

Farmer Charles Anderson from Donnybrook farm in South Africa’s KwaZulu/Natal recently watched as his property was turned into a slaughterhouse: his former farm workers attacked his cattle. Two cows were chopped up on the spot while ten had to be put down because of their injuries. Since November 2017, attacks on Anderson’s cattle and farm buildings by some of his militant workers have increased: they are angry that Anderson has hired Zimbabweans for managerial positions. Last week, these local workers burned the Zimbabweans’ houses to the ground.
Threats were made – it’s the Zimbabweans or it’s the farmer’s family. Make your choice, the militants told Anderson. Either they go or you go, this in the presence of the SA police. Many workers were so terrified they stayed away from work: local farmers and friends milked Anderson’s dairy cows – all 1 500 of them. Anderson had obtained a court order against the violent employees but when it came to activating this legal instruction, the local bailiff advised there were not enough police available to back up the interdict. The police themselves were afraid. “How then do we protect our people, our cattle, our equipment, our farm?” said Luan Anderson, Charles’ wife, tears of frustration stinging her eyes.
Then came the story so often repeated by South African farmers: “We’ve put so much into the workers’ community. We built a school, a crèche, we donated land for a soccer field... This farm provides work for 300 people and their families”.
Charles Anderson was in tears as he came in from the veld. “To watch a poor animal walk and then fall, and then try again to walk and to fall again because his hamstring and heel have been chopped off is.......”. Words failed him, as words fail so many South Africans as they endure, day after day, the most terrible savagery in what used to be a developed, functioning country. Luan Anderson said she had called the police many times to help as threats and terror have existed for some time on the farm. But the police themselves are too afraid to take action!
In the North West province, the situation is just as bad. Local farmers say that the province is in danger of total collapse because there is no law and order. Crime is not properly investigated if investigated at all. Court orders are ignored. Weak policing is the order of the day, and the militants know it. Embattled farmers are working to help each other via social media, but if the police don’t act, the terror will increase. More than 4 000 policemen, of whom 32 are senior officials, have a criminal record. Many of these are for traffic offences but there are many other transgressions such as assaults, fraud, contravention of firearms and ammunition legislation and theft. In some instances, there are convictions of murder, attempted murder, high treason, rape, public violence and contempt of court. Many police stations are undermanned and short of equipment.
South Africa’s general election is on May 8. Politicians of all stripes crisscross the land promising the earth to mainly naive and loyal voters who, in the main, believe that this time, things will improve. The most hypocritical and disingenuous of these campaigners is the president himself, Cyril Ramaphosa. It would take volumes to itemise the horrors of everyday life in South Africa - the violence, the burnings, the theft and destruction, the farm murders, the armed robberies, house burglaries and the wholesale corruption. But while the narrative goes that Ramaphosa himself has the power to “clean up”, the reality is different. Under current legislation, SA votes for the party, not the individual. Says senior columnist Barney Mthombothi: “The party, not the voter decides who goes to parliament. All the voter does at election time is to give the party a blank cheque”. (Sunday times 21.4.19).
Ramaphosa told farmers in Stellenbosch Cape Town that “young whites must not leave the country”. He tried to assuage farmers’ concerns about his party’s advanced plans to expropriate land without compensation. He didn’t back down on this at all – he said the legislation was “on the way” but that it would concentrate in the main on state land. This expropriation will occur “within the frame of the country’s constitution” and it will be done in a way where “a balance will be found where everyone in the country will feel that the constitution works for them”.
This is similar to the hocus pocus which was fed to the white farmers in Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980. And they believed the man who ultimately destroyed their country.
A Pretoria lady challenged Ramaphosa via the letters column of a newspaper. His party’s policies of affirmative action and Black Economic Empowerment have destroyed her children’s employment chances, she said. One top SA politician’s threats that whites may be killed “but not for now” were never repudiated by the president, and the fact that our school matriculation certificates are not worth the paper they are written on overseas makes a mockery of the president’s plea for young whites to stay in the country. This is just one example of the humbug put out by the president to seduce voters into believing that he is the new broom sweeping clean.
Promises made twenty-five years ago within the euphoria of the ANC coming to power - free municipal services, education, water, electricity - have not materialised. Many municipalities are so debilitated that they are under administration, while the violence so prevalent and relentless in SA can be laid very much at the door of these dysfunctional entities. Corruption is rife, and efficiency is virtually non-existent. SA’s porous borders, unconstrained by Mr Ramaphosa’s ANC government, have contributed to overcrowding in SA’s townships via the unchecked movement of millions of Africans from all over the continent. Services have collapsed under the weight of the new arrivals, resulting in polluted water, sewage in the streets and thousands of illegal electricity connections draining the country’s already tired and inefficient Eskom’s ability to keep the lights on.
According to a 2015 SA Stats estimate, there were at that time 500 000 to one million undocumented migrants in SA. Other credible estimates put the current figure at five million. No one knows how many people there are in SA, let alone Mr Ramaphosa, yet he magnanimously told Alexandra township residents a while back that he would build one million houses for them in five years. This hilarious hyperbole elicited guffaws from a very tired electorate: this would mean 548 houses a day!
Eighty-seven of SA’s municipalities are “dysfunctional” while 24 have been placed “under administration”. But Mr Ramaphosa’s party refuses to hire competent whites to fill crucial posts. Vacancies stay open for sometimes years, but whites need not apply for these positions. The result of this discrimination is the current collapse of SA’s once functioning local government structures.
Recent pre-election violence has torn South Africa apart. The ruling ANC is reported to be behind much of the disturbances in the townships, especially in areas held by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). One Thabang Lediga, ANC youth league chairman in the shanty town of Alexandra which sits across the road from Sandton, South Africa’s richest square mile, declared that his organisation would bring Alexandra “to a standstill”. Chaos followed. The rampaging and destruction spread to other
areas of the country – Pretoria, Cape Town and the larger Western Cape. The country was virtually aflame but little of this appeared in the foreign media. (Are they ashamed to admit they were wrong in supporting the coming to power of the ANC?)
The irony of burning things to show your anger, then voting those you’re angry with back into power, is a bizarre South African phenomenon, says columnist Barney Mthombothi. South Africa is, once again, “at fever pitch” he declares. Those burning will ironically use their vote, not to punish those whose actions and decisions (the ANC government) have landed them in such dire situations, but to return them to power! Once rewarded, incompetence becomes the norm”. The idea of voting against those who have let them down “doesn’t occur to them”, says Mthombothi. “Violence becomes the only effective measure to draw the attention of the politicians to the hopeless situation on the ground without the prospect of the politicians losing power.” Violence has been a way of life in South Africa: this is how Mr Ramaphosa’s party came to power. History does not deceive us in this respect.
Little does South Africa know how fragile the country’s crucial transport system is – 320 people in the road transport industry died in the past year due to criminal activities and violent protests. At least 1 300 heavy-duty trucks were destroyed in the same period. During this violence, more than R1 billion was lost in the destruction of property while transport delays cost the economy more than R1,5 billion. Truck drivers now insist on “danger pay” which, together with increased insurance costs, has increased the cost of transport. One driver fled for his life after being attacked with rocks. He stopped in order to avoid running over the children who were stoning him. His truck was eventually petrol bombed and destroyed while his employer LM transport was left with more than R3 million in losses. The trucking industry now works with an average after-tax profit of only 0.3%. This truck violence affects not only South Africa but harms bordering countries such as Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and even Tanzania. Eighty-eight percent of South Africa’s goods are transported by road. Economist Mike Schussler says the transport crisis is comparable to the Eskom power crisis, only not quite so visible!
The country’s railways are not much better. Transport Minister Blade Nzimande is long on speeches and short on delivery. This communist incompetent has admitted that the government’s strategy to “turn around” the crisis-ridden Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) has failed. The breakdown of commuter transport due to theft, industrial sabotage and neglect of signalling and other rail infrastructure “has become a source of social discontent”, he declares. (In March president Cyril Ramaphosa was stranded on a broken-down train for two hours during an electioneering outing in Pretoria!). Unsurprisingly Nzimande is promising the appointment of a “turnaround team” to sort out yet another ANC disaster. Train cancellations are rife, as are delays and accidents.
Some rail lines are choked with weeds, and the once-manicured train stations between Johannesburg and Cape Town are overgrown and denuded of seating and buildings, which have been stolen brick by brick. No one cares, let alone Mr Ramaphosa. In Cape Town the Metrorail hardly functions. Trains run late or not at all. Passengers lose their jobs to frequent late-coming or non-attendance at work. Theft and assault on the trains are common. One Capetonian complained in the press of “torn seats, graffiti-covered interiors, floor litter and filthy windows”. He says the ANC “has changed the rail landscape in South Africa from a comparatively successful one to a wreckage”.
A new phenomenon under Mr Ramaphosa’s government is the construction mafia. Currently, construction and state infrastructure sites are being raided and protection money demanded from the builders. About 183 building projects nationwide, valued at more than R63 billion, have been hindered, often by violent groups demanding a stake, typically 30%, in these projects. A R2,4 billion German oil storage investment at Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape was halted in early March after “armed gangs” demanded a stake. (Mail & Guardian 12.4.19). Many of SA’s top construction companies have thrown in the towel. These world-class entities were forced to sit on their hands while inefficient municipal and national government “civil servants” could not move forward with the granting of contracts as plans and budgets for capital investment died in their initial stages of discussion because of the lack of skills among officials.
The once great Group Five Construction is selling some of its assets to prevent completely going under. The SA National Roads Agency (SANRAL) has seen more than 60 projects affected to a varying extent by these disruptions, including its R1,6 billion Mtentu bridge project and a road contract near Stutterheim, both in the Eastern Cape. Some of SA’s other top construction companies have already gone to the wall.
There are approximately 35 000 commercial farmers in South Africa who feed more than 55 million people. Yet this productive group is the target of murderous gangs who rape and kill with stunning savagery. Over Easter weekend there were 13 farm attacks in SA – three murders, one rape of a seventy-year-old woman, and one four-year-old boy left fatherless. Two suspects were arrested wearing police uniforms.
A 71-year-old farmer from Limpopo province is fighting for his life after being shot point blank outside his farmhouse. Closed-circuit television does not deter the attackers. The conviction rate for farm attacks is very low. In this Limpopo case, no one has been arrested to date. This type of crime prevails throughout the country. Syndicates move through peri-urban and rural areas attacking households and farms. At least 19 house attacks have occurred in one month near a squatter camp in the north-west of Johannesburg. In another residential district – Muldersdrift – there were 91 house robberies/break-ins in one year. The local police station is understaffed, prompting residents to form their own protection groups.
Some farmers in the northern and eastern cape are selling up. Their plight during a prolonged drought was not desperate enough to prompt the government to timeously declare their districts disaster areas, so they received no state funding. The chairman of the local farmers association complains bitterly that government officials do not do their work: they did nothing to assist the hapless farmers. In the meantime, 50% of the Karoo’s grazing has been destroyed by drought, while more than a third of wine farmers in the Cape have made losses due to drought. This particular industry now has 25% fewer producers than a decade ago, a trend ever more evident in other areas of South Africa.
This is South Africa under the ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa. Complaints are met with pledges to “turn things around”. “We must grow South Africa together” is the ANC’s election slogan. They are asking South Africa to vote for Mr Ramaphosa but he is but a cog in the ANC’s corrupt and inept wheel. The tragedy is that millions will vote for the ANC, no matter what. They want to continue receiving their welfare payment at the end of every month, and this is all that matters to them. The president will tell these hapless citizens that a vote for any other party will cost them their monthly sustenance. How does the concept of democracy countenance that?