By Lisa Vives
Australia’s national security minister has proposed fast-tracking immigrant visas for white South Africans facing “horrific circumstances” under Cyril Ramaphosa, the country’s President since February 15, 2018. He was elected head of the African National Congress in December 2017.
Barely a month into his presidency, Ramaphosa vowed to speed up the seizure of land from white owners and turn the properties over to blacks. “This original sin that was committed when our country was colonized must be resolved in a way that will take South Africa forward,” he declared.
The resolution calling for expropriation without compensation was introduced by the self-described radical and militant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and passed 241 votes in agreement, and 83 votes against.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Australia should speed up the visas for white farmers who, he claimed, are being “persecuted” since the South African President endorsed transferring land ownership from whites to blacks, in some cases without compensation.
“These people deserve special attention,” Sutton said. “From what I’ve seen they do need help from a civilized country like ours.”
The Minister’s offer to white farmers echoes the racist beliefs promoted by The Daily Telegraph, an Australian tabloid newspaper published in Sydney – a branch of News Corp, founded by Rupert Murdoch.
Miranda Devine, in a recent column, asked for “compassion and taxpayer largesse” for “our oppressed white, Christian, industrious, rugby and cricket-playing Commonwealth cousins” who would easily adapt to Australian culture.
Columnist Caroline Marcus, also of News Corp, dismissed the ANC’s ambitious land reform program as “reverse racism”. “The truth is,” she wrote, “there are versions of this anti-white, vengeance theme swirling in movements around the western world, from Black Lives Matter in the U.S. to Invasion Day protest back home.”
“The situation has become so bleak,” she continued, that “being a farmer in South Africa is now the world’s most dangerous job.”
Views of Australia’s far right like these reprise a “white genocide” meme popular in alt-right circles abroad, observed Jon Piccini, writing for The Conversation, a South African news site.
Australian Minister Dutton’s remarks brought swift condemnation from the South African Foreign Ministry which said a “full retraction is expected”.
In a statement that appeared in The New York Times and Al Jazeera, South Africa’s foreign ministry declared: “There is no reason for any government anywhere in the world to suspect that any South African is in danger from their own democratically elected government. That threat simply does not exist.”
The statement added that South Africa regretted that the Australian government “chose not to use the available diplomatic channels to raise concerns or to seek clarifications on the land distribution process in South Africa”.
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, also took issue with the Australian minister. “There are no plans to treat South African visa applicants any differently under Australia’s humanitarian via program.”
White farmers own almost three-quarters of South Africa’s agricultural land, even after 23 years of government efforts to redistribute land to the black majority, City Press reported, citing a land audit by farm lobbying group Agri SA.
Some 73.3 percent of agricultural land is owned by whites, down from 85.1 percent in 1994, the year South Africa first held democratic elections, the newspaper reported in October 2017.
Black ownership has increased markedly in some of the country’s most fertile provinces. Black farmers own 74 percent of the land in KwaZulu-Natal and 52 percent in Limpopo, City Press reported, citing the report.