...to Sub-Saharan Africa
The right wing Afrikaner Freedom Front (FF) headed by General Constand Viljoen plans to develop a "Food Corridor" extending across the Southern part of the continent from Angola to Mozambique.
Afrikaner agri-business is to extend its grip
into neighboring countries with large scale investments in commercial
farming, food processing and eco-tourism. The agricultural unions of the
Orange Free State and Eastern Transvaal are partners; the objective is to
set up White-owned farms beyond South Africa’s borders.
Moreover, the South African Chamber for
Agricultural Development (SACADA) which acts as an umbrella organization
also includes, centrally, several right wing organizations including the
Freedom Front (FF) led by Viljoen, whose grim record as South African
Defence Force (SADF) Commander in Chief during the Apartheid regime is well
The SACADA-Freedom Front initiative has nonetheless the political backing of the African National Congress as well as the personal blessing of President Nelson Mandela who has delegated Mpumalanga Premier Matthews Phosa to the SACADA Board of Governors.
All the other governors are members of the Freedom Front.
Premier Phosa, a distinguished ANC politician
and among the most prosperous black businessmen in Mpumalanga province (East
Transvaal), has also contributed to laying the political ground work for the
expansion of White Afrikaner business interests into neighboring countries.
Viljoen has also held high level meetings on
Afrikaner agricultural investments with representatives of the European
Union, the United Nations and other donor agencies.
As one newspaper account affirms,
In a venture set up in 1994 under the South African Development Corporation (SADEVCO), the government of the Congo had granted to the Boers 99 year leases on agricultural land.
President Mandela endorsed the scheme calling on African nations,
The African host countries have on the whole welcomed the inflow of Afrikaner investments.
With regard to regulatory policies, however, the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO) (rather than national governments) call the shots, invariably requiring (indebted) countries to accept,
In this context, the liberalization of trade and investment under donor supervision, tends to support the extension of Afrikaner business interests throughout the region.
Moreover, in the sleazy environment shaped by
transnational corporations and international creditors, corrupt politicians
and senior bureaucrats are often co-opted or invited to become the "business
partners" of South African and other foreign investors.
It will most likely provide a fatal blow to subsistence agriculture as well as to the peasant cash crop economy, displacing local level agricultural markets and aggravating the conditions of endemic famine prevailing in the region.
As if this were not enough, Jen Kelenga, a spokesperson for a pro-democracy group in Zaire, also sees, at the heart of the initiative, the Boers,
The "Food Corridor" if carried through, could potentially alter the rural landscape of the Southern African region, requiring the uprooting and displacement of small farmers over an extensive territory.
Under the proposed scheme, millions of hectares
of the best farmland would be handed over to South African agri-business.
The Boers are to manage large scale commercial farms using the rural people
both as "labor tenants" as well as seasonal agricultural workers.
The national level land laws (drafted under technical advice from World Bank Legal Department) are with some variations "exact carbon copies of each other":
Under the proposed land legislation, both SACADA and the World Bank nonetheless tout the protection of traditional land rights.
The small peasantry is to be "protected" through
the establishment of "customary land reserves" established in the immediate
vicinity of the White commercial farms. In practice, under the new land
legislation, the majority of the rural people will be caged into small
territorial enclaves ("communal lands") while the bulk of the best
agricultural land will be sold or leased to private investors.
Impoverished by the macro-economic reforms, with
no access to credit and modern farm inputs, these customary enclaves will,
as noted, constitute "labor reserves" for large scale agri-business.
President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and President Nelson Mandela (1994 picture below) signed an intergovernmental agreement in May 1996 which grants rights to Afrikaner agri-business to develop investments in at least six provinces encompassing territorial concessions of some eight million hectares.
According to one South African official:
In SACADA’s concessionary areas in Mozambique,
the Frelimo government will ensure that there is no encroachment; rural
small-holders and subsistence farmers (who invariably do not possess legal
land titles) will either be expelled or transferred into marginal lands.
But the Boers also have their eyes on agricultural areas along the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers as well as on the road and railway facilities linking Lichinga, Niassa’s capital to the deep seaport of Nagala.
The railway line is being rehabilitated and
modernized (by a French contractor) with development aid provided by France.
The Boers will bring from South Africa their Black right-hand men, their tractor operators, their technicians.
In the words of the project liaison officer at the South African High Commission in Maputo:
The number of White settlers in the
concessionary areas in Niassa is likely to be small.
Unless token customary land rights are entrenched within or in areas contiguous to the concessions, the peasants will become landless farm laborers or "labor tenants."
Under the latter system applied by the Boers in South Africa since the 19th Century, black peasant households perform labor services (corvée) in exchange for the right to farm a small parcel of land.
Formally outlawed in South Africa in 1960 by the
Nationalist government, "labor tenancy" remains in existence in many parts
of South Africa including East Transvaal and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Its
reproduction in the form of rural townships in Mozambique will provide
reserves of cheap labor for the White commercial farms.
Moreover, under the Mosagrius Agreement the Mozambican government will be fully responsible in dealing with land disputes and ensuring the expropriation of peasant lands,
Small wonder, then, that,
...have firmly backed the project.
Indeed, "the Food Corridor" has become an integral part of the IMF-World Bank sponsored structural adjustment program in Mozambique.
In the words of SACADA Secretary Willie Jordaan:
Under the disguise of "foreign aid," Western donors are in fact contributing to the extension of the Apartheid system into neighboring countries.
The European Union has provided money to SACADA out of a development package explicitly earmarked by Brussels for South Africa’s Reconstruction and Development Program.
According to an EU spokesman, the project,
The EU Ambassador to South Africa Mr. Erwan Fouéré met General Viljoen to discuss the project.
Fouéré confirmed that if all goes well, further EU money could be made available to cover the costs of,
The initiative is categorized by the donor community as a bona fide development project which will benefit the peasantry in the host country as well contribute to South Africa’s Reconstruction.
The fact that the scheme derogates the land
rights of small-holders and replicates the system of "labor tenancy"
prevalent in South Africa under Apartheid is not a matter for discussion.
In Mozambique, for instance, so-called "targeted
investments" are undertaken with a view to rehabilitating port facilities,
roads, water resources, river and lake transportation, etc. largely to the
benefit of South African investors including SACADA.
In Mozambique, under the terms of the Agreement the authorities are also to support the provision of Western-style health services as well as create a "sanitary environment" for the White Afrikaners settling in the territory.
Part of the money provided by donors and
international organizations for social programs will also be channeled
towards the concessionary areas.
All investments in the concessionary areas,
In this way, concessions granted to foreign
investors in various parts of the country (a pattern that is being
duplicated in the tourism sphere, including in Niassa Province itself) begin
to define a recasting of national territory into a number of separate
"corridors" that is eerily reminiscent of the colonial period.
And the falling of such corridors under the political custody of donors, non-governmental organizations and foreign investors also means that these latter constitute a de facto "parallel government" which increasingly bypasses the State system. But this latter process dovetails neatly with other demands of donors, their requirement (in the name of "governance") of the down-sizing of the central State and the "decentralization" of decision-making to the provincial and district levels.
Rather than providing added powers and resources to regional and local communities, however, State revenues will be channeled towards servicing Mozambique’s external debt with "decentralization" predicated on fiscal austerity under the structural adjustment program.
Add all this up and the result is a considerable
weakening of both the central and regional governments, and a further
reinforcement of Mozambique’s recolonization.
Most charitably, one may conclude that the ANC has championed - albeit without serious debate or discussion - the granting of "Land to the Boers" in neighboring countries as a means to relieving land pressures within South Africa:
Of course, there are good reasons to believe that, despite its merits, South Africa’s Land Reform Program is unlikely to succeed, this program being increasingly undermined by the post-Apartheid government’s own sweeping macro-economic reforms under the neoliberal policy agenda.
In rural South Africa, the removal of agricultural subsidies, the deregulation of credit and trade liberalization (which is part of the Macro-economic Framework) have not only contributed to the further impoverishment of Black small-holders and tenant farmers, the measures have also pushed numerous White Afrikaner family farms into bankruptcy.
Pretoria’s structural adjustment program thereby
favors an even greater concentration of farmland than during the Apartheid
regime as well as the consolidation of corporate agriculture both within and
beyond South Africa’s borders.
Moreover, it reinforces corporate control
over the best farmland while also providing a political avenue to Afrikaner
agri-business for "exporting Apartheid" to the entire Southern African
The latter also include designated areas for Afrikaner investments in fishing and aquaculture on lake Niassa (displacing the local fishing industry).
In turn, the Agreement hands over to the Boers,
the development and operation rights over the Niassa Game Reserve on the
Tanzanian border. The Reserve includes an extensive area of some 20,000
hectares earmarked for so-called "ecologically sustainable ecotourism."
During the Mozambican civil war, Blanchard had
provided financial backing to Renamo, the rebel organization directly
supported by the Apartheid regime and trained by the South African
Defence Force (SADF).