It is easy to tell that while he heads the ANC and the government, Cyril Ramaphosa is not in charge. In his heart of hearts, assuming politicians have hearts, he must know that two things are very wrong.
The first is that he has retained some of the dead wood – festering, rotten, putrid, dead wood – from the Zuma era. People whose reputations have been shattered, and who should be in jail cells, but who instead are heading ministries where they can do yet more harm.
The second is that he has embraced the naked theft which goes by the title of land reform. Reform, in the ANC (and EFF) parallel universe, involves land seizure without compensation.
Of course, there were past injustices, with people being thrown off their land. And compensation mechanisms can be devised, and have been devised, to deal with that.
But the ANC’s logic, if it can be dignified with that term, is as brainless as picking on a five year old white kid and accusing him or her of apartheid crimes. Or a blaming a five year German kid for Nazi atrocities.
Very few white land owners in this country personally snatched their land. And if they did, they should be jailed. In most cases, they inherited it from previous generations, who were of course, in some cases, thieves and barbarians.
How far back do you go? And if you do allow this land to be seized today, how do you account for all the improvements which have been made? If you have a productive, successful farm, this is due to human effort, investment and toil – not just to ownership of the land.
If a successful factory is on some land, is it legitimate to seize the business, the assets, the plant and machinery, as well as the land?
And then there are the banks. After sliding into a comatose state from all the graphs and numbers in the slides at the latest FirstRand bank results presentation, I was jolted back to consciousness. With a question on land.
“The banking sector is playing a key roll in contributing to the debate,” we were told, in reply. “Where bank lending is based on underlying security, the security must not be at risk.”
And here is the rub.
The ANC and the EFF can strut and preen on various stages, talking about their commitment to the restoration of stolen land.
But the two big buckets of sand in the vaseline will not make this a painless process. Many of the current occupants of the disputed land will have legitimately inherited it, or will have legally bought it.
And many, many property owners share the privilege of ownership with the banks.
So just as the President is doing the country a disservice by retaining in his curate’s egg of a cabinet some of the despised members of the kleptocratic Zuptocracy, he should be more up-front about being forced to espouse the divisive nightmare that is land reform.
This country needs investment, for which secure property rights are a number-one requirement. We know that. And he knows that. He made his billions through capitalism, not communism.
It is a shame, therefore, that our President is mouthing ANC folly, and does not have a sufficiently strong power-base to do the right thing.