At rally to note Human Rights Day on Wednesday, controversial South African politician Julius Malema called on white to leave behind their property before departing from South Africa so that it can be redistributed to blacks. Australia recently moved to provide emergency visas for white South Africans seeking to leave their country in the wake of threats by the ruling African National Congress party and Malema’s leftist EFF party to seize farmland without compensation. Referring to the offer, Malema -- who leads the EFF -- told his cheering audience, ”A racist country like Australia says…'EFF wants to kill white farmers – they must come to Australia'."

Addressing the cheering crowd at the Mpumalanga Stadium, Malema said, "If they want to go, they must go." He added, "They must leave the keys of the tractors because we want to work the land; they must leave the keys of the houses, because we want to live in those houses."

Malema said, "They must leave everything that they did not come with to South Africa." Those who emigrate, Malema said, should "leave quietly" because those who remain "are too busy.” He warned, "Don’t make a noise because you will irritate us." Emigrants to Australia will be poor there, he predicted: "They are rich here because they are exploiting black people." He said that emigrants to Australia will return someday "with the tail between their legs" and offered "we will hire them because we will be the owners of their farms."

As leader of the EFF, Malema said that his party is misunderstood. "Today we say: let’s talk about how are we going to expropriate land without compensation. We don’t know violence; we know negotiation." The expropriation, he said, must be put into effect because, "our land is our dignity."

Following the ouster of former president Jacob Zuma, the African National Congress joined with Malema and his EFF party and passed a motion to amend the country’s constitution in order to seize land without compensation. The measure must now go to a special committee for consideration. It drew considerable condemnation from both inside and outside the country. The king of the Zulu nation of South Africa, condemned the land grab and suggested that his people are willing to fight to the death in its defense. The moderate Democratic Alliance party has also condemned the measure, while bankers worry about the effect of expropriations on mortgages and the economy as a whole.


Earlier in March, Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton said that his government should consider granting special visas for white South African farmers should be considered, in view of the coming expropriations. Dutton said that his government will consider putting visa requests from South Africans on a fast-track on humanitarian grounds or other considerations. Last week, South Africa’s International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu issued a protest to the Australian High Commissioner in South Africa, Adam McCarthy, to demand a retraction. 

Australian Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm recently told News24 that his country has recently taken in as many as 20 000 refugees each year under the humanitarian visa category. "Things would need to deteriorate pretty markedly in South Africa for white farmers to be granted refugee status. But if that happened, I'd certainly support accepting them under this visa category," he said."However, obviously I would much prefer the South African government protected the lives and property of all South Africans. As Zimbabwe has clearly shown, there are no gains for anyone from forcing white farmers from their land."
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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