May 23, 2019

Seeking Land Equality in South Africa

“The failure of land reform is one of the reasons that South Africa is among the most unequal societies on earth. Unemployment is at thirty-seven per cent. Only thirteen per cent of South Africans earn more than six thousand dollars a year. The education system is in shambles: nearly eighty per cent of nine- and ten-year-olds fail simple tests of reading comprehension. To add to the woes of South Africans, some seventeen billion dollars disappeared from state coffers under Jacob Zuma, and is still being pursued by the courts.

All of this helps explain the rise of a politician named Julius Malema—Juju to his supporters. Malema, the former head of the African National Congress Youth League, was first a protégé of Zuma’s and then an antagonist, railing against Zuma’s “self-seeking greed” and calling him a thief. After being expelled from the A.N.C., Malema founded his own political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters—a “radical, left, and anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement.” The E.F.F.’s position is that all South African land—as well as all banks and mineral rights—should be nationalized to rectify economic inequality.

Malema’s campaign billboards advertise him as a “son of the soil,” but he drives a Mercedes-Benz and wears a seventeen-thousand-dollar Breitling watch. In 2009, fending off accusations of corruption, he told the South African journalist Debora Patta that he identified with the underprivileged. “I am the poor,” he said. “If you are going to define richness on the basis of material clothes and cars, then that’s something else.” Targeting South Africa’s vast underclass for votes, the E.F.F. criticizes the A.N.C., but it demonizes South African whites. “Even under the so-called democracy, you are subjects, you are servants of white people,” Malema said, at a rally in 2016. “I am here to disturb the white man’s peace. The white man has been too comfortable for too long.” Malema concluded, “We are not calling for the slaughtering of white people, at least for now. . . . But, white minority, be warned: we will take our land—it doesn’t matter how.” The E.F.F. is currently the third-largest party in Parliament, with six per cent of the vote.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"With many other countries already studying the Asian playbook, the United States and Europe could benefit from doing the same."

"Trump's cursing is one of the most straightforward parts of his appeal... Trump is not the only politician whose profanity has stood him in good stead."

"‘If we get all of this because Netanyahu wants to make Trump happy, that’s fine with us,’ says local council rep in Golan Heights as plans ramp up for ‘new’ neighborhood honoring U.S. president..."

"...there is something worth paying attention to in this latest petition from fans keen to have a creative work made the way that they want it. The comments on the petition are instructive."

"The sunny job numbers and steady growth hide the fact that most people think the economy works only for people in power."

"Like many other Americans, I now wear AirPods all day at my desk to combat the awful tyranny of the open office. Since they don’t cancel noise, they provide me with writing music..."

"The logic of attributing mental states to nonhuman animals is complicated. We cannot use deductive inference, because there are no general rules..."

"As the canon of English literature slowly, gradually opens itself up to books by women and authors of color, Modern Library and Penguin Classics have just launched two new series..."

"Egalitarian couples assume their progressive ideology will carry the day. Sociologists know that it doesn’t.... sharing child care is associated with valuing gender equality..."

"Business Booms for Sephardic Food: Women are leading the way as small businesses bring traditional recipes to the commercial marketplace..."

"With most animal populations, the niches that encase the populations are of constant size. Animal societies growing in a given niche have dynamics neatly fitted by equations with a constant limit or ceiling."

"Now some 200,000 Jews live in Germany, a nation of 82 million people, and many are increasingly fearful.... 85 percent of respondents in Germany characterized anti-Semitism as a “very big” or “fairly big” problem..."