Author, futurist and strategy consultant Graeme Codrington penned an opinion piece on Facebook on Friday that has already been widely shared and commented on.
He decided to tackle the highly divisive issue of land expropriation without compensation, which will eventually be written into South African law if the parliamentary process that is now under way approves it.
The 47-year-old Codrington has advised white South Africans against feelings of panic about these developments, pointing out that a careful reading of the motion passed in the National Assembly on 27 February, among many other things, “acknowledges that the African majority was only confined to 13% of the land in South Africa while whites owned 87% at the end of the apartheid regime in 1994”; “that the recent land audit claims that black people own less than 2% of rural land, and less than 7% of urban land” and expropriation would be “implemented in a manner that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid and undertake a process of consultation to determine the modalities of the governing party resolution”.
Codrington advised his “white South African friends” that that this would not be “the first time the South African government has taken land without paying for it”.
“In fact, it’s at least the fifteenth time the government of South Africa has passed laws to take land.
“Please do us a favour: if your ancestors did not comment about the previous fifteen times the government took land (and I am guessing that, like mine, they did not), then right now would be a good time to be quiet for a bit and listen.
“Not forever. Just for a bit. And then calmly contribute to the conversation over the next few weeks and months in an attempt to find a solution that helps everyone.”
Here is the list of laws he details as having taken land from non-white people in recent history:
- The Glen Grey act of 1894 (Under Cecil John Rhodes)
- The Native Land Act of 1913 (Act 27)
- The Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure of 1930
- The Riotous Assemblies Act 19 – 1930
- The Asiatic Immigration Amendment Act of 1931
- The Native Service Contracts Act of 1932
- The Native Trust and Land Act of 1936 (Act 18)
- The Slums Act of 1934
- The Development Trust and Land Act of 1936 (Act 18)
- The Rural Dealers Licensing Act of 1935.
- The Representation of Blacks Act 12 of 1936.
- The Black (Native) Laws Amendment Act 46 of 1937
- The Pegging Act of 1946
- The Group Areas Act of 1950 (Act. 41)
He concluded by writing that none of these laws went “back too far” as “the first of these Acts were passed in my grandmother’s lifetime”, so it would not be valid to “moan about ‘how far back do we have to go'”.
According to his online biography, Codrington lives and works in Johannesburg and “his insights into generational theory [have] resulted in two books published by Penguin”.
His post elicited much reaction and counter-reaction and continues to generate debate, shares and responses. He has been moderating comments carefully, and his responses have mostly advised people to calm down.
In a subsequent post, he wrote that black people owning “somewhere between 7% and 25% of the land could not be seen as “good enough” and “something must be done”.
“Something must be done because of justice: colonialisation stole land from indigenous people and apartheid reinforced and exacerbated landlessness amongst people of colour. Justice demands this be made right…
“Building the economy and growing employment is key, and if we can find a way to bolster both while also dealing with land redistribution we’d have hit the jackpot. I think that’s what the government voted to try and do this past week, and I support the attempt.
“There’s absolutely no need for panic. And certainly no need to sign petitions as economic refugees. Good grief.”