With every passing day the formerly booming nation of South Africa is getting ever closer to the formerly banana republic of Zimbabwe.
On Wednesday, South Africa's ruling African National Congress proposed at its 5th annual national policy conference that in addition to potentially nationalizing the country's central bank, that land expropriation without compensation should be allowed where it is "necessary and unavoidable," President Jacob Zuma said.
There was a hard push from supporters of President Jacob Zuma for a decision on the redistribution of land without compensation‚ which would necessitate a change to the constitution. But as the Sunday Times reported, according to the ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee head‚ Enoch Godongwana‚ both this proposal and the current system of redistribution with compensation remain on the table for debate by branches. Zuma‚ however‚ hinted in his closing address that there could be legislative changes for expropriation without compensation.
“We agree on the imperative to accelerate land redistribution and land reform. Again we had robust discussions on the modalities to achieve this. We agree that using the fiscus for land redistribution must be accompanied by other measures if we are to achieve the goal at the required pace,” said Zuma in his closing remarks at the six-day conference held in Johannesburg.
“Where it is necessary and unavoidable this might include expropriation without compensation‚” Zuma said.
As discussed several months ago, land will be a key issue ahead of a December conference where a successor to Zuma will be chosen. The two current frontrunners are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former African Union chair and Zuma's ex-wife. As a reminder, Dlamini-Zuma has made land redistribution from whites to blacks without compensation one of her main policies.
The policy conference - which has been the top news item in South Africa for the past six days - made a dramatic turn-around and ditched the term "white monopoly capital" as being the main hindrance to the rapid socio-economic transformation of the black majority. Most of the delegates appeared to have given President Jacob Zuma and his supporters the thumbs down on this issue. They have recently used the term "white monopoly capital" in what appears to be an attempt to regain lost support among the masses.
"Nine out of those eleven commissions said the phenomenon of monopoly capital is a global one and it manifests itself differently in various parts of the globe and therefore it would not be correct to characterize ours simply as white monopoly capital," said Joel Netshitenze of the ANC's national executive committee.
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Ordinary South Africans are meanwhile keeping close tabs on the policy conference, adamant that the ANC come up with solutions to overcome deep poverty, the uncontrollable rise in unemployment and inequality.
The ANC should once again become "the party that people voted for so many years ago," says Mbali Nyando, lamenting that 22 years into democracy, the living conditions of the people, black people in particular, are "deteriorating rather than improving."
Bheki Khumalo told DW that the ANC should focus on unemployment, a "major issue among the black people." People are unemployed, hungry and they have lost hope, he says, appealing to the ANC to work more closely with entrepreneurs.
And if South Africa decides to follow in Zimbabwe's footsteps, the already hopeless people will be even hungrier and even more unemployed.