Tuesday, February 13, 2007

South Africa Begins Land Expropriation As Apartheid Remedy

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa, under pressure to redress land ownership imbalances left by apartheid, has expropriated its first farm in a reform drive aimed at returning land to the black majority, officials said on Tuesday.

Until now, the government has moved cautiously, careful not to rattle investor nerves given the chaos that accompanied a similar land redistribution process in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

The farm in the Northern Cape province had belonged to the South African Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has been ordered to sell it for 35.5 million rand, the commission said.The land was claimed by 471 local families, among them workers on the farm.

This is interesting on many levels. So far, South Africa has been very cautious about redressing past land theft from the apartheid area, but have decided that they have waited long enough and calmed enough nerves in the financial communities to allow this. The symbolism of a church actually being the squatters on land stolen from black families and chosen as the first target is quite stunning.

We have had over a decade now since Apartheid ended, and even churches, groups that are supposed to be doing good deeds are still holding on to stolen land with an iron tooth grip. I wish this story was different. In 1994, if the South African Evangelical Church returned the land to it's owners, it would have been a great testimony to a Christ like spirit. Instead, the power of government has to trump whatever darkness still fills the hearts of white South Africans who can not let go of what they gained on the backs of others.