In a free and civilised society you don’t take people’s stuff based on the colour of their skin. It was wrong when it took place under Apartheid, and it is wrong now. It appears South Africa is trying to repeat what happened in the past, only in reverse mode, making them no less racist than white apartheid and erasing at a stroke the legacy and struggle of Nelson Mandela, sharing the same proud legacy of racist apartheid.
Eighteen years ago, the leading party of Zimbabwe ZANUPF was threatened with election loss, and in order to shore up its support amongst its electorate, Robert Mugagbe decided to expropriate the white farmers of Zimbabwe. What that led to, aside from the horrific violence so horrific the Nigeria carved out huge swathes of land in Kwara State and invited white Zimbabwean farmers to come farm, was a total economic collapse of the country on an apocalyptic scale. Half a century of economic growth and infrastructural development was wiped out in Zimbabwe as a result of this particular policy.
The country experienced hyper inflation such as the world has never seen. The government had to abandon its currency when a loaf of bread cost $10 million Zimbabwean dollars. The country’s unemployment rate was %95. The worse the world has ever seen. Armed robbery increased, infant mortality increased, life expectancy plummeted, and perhaps most importantly, agricultural production collapsed. Hunger ensued.
Rhodesia went from a relatively wealthy country with some of Africa’s best infrastructure and institutions, to a rundown desperately country that made Nigeria look like Sweden in comparison.
That the white men had a shameful history that will be forever etched in their past doesn’t mean Africans have to follow suit. South Africa has taken xenophobia to a whole new level of self sabotage. The Nigerian government and the African Union has to denounce the policy. It is both immoral because it targets a specific group of people, and secondly it could be economically destructive.
It’s like South Africa forgets it’s not a resource rich country like Nigeria. %80 of government earnings comes from the service sectors and tourism, meaning external events or decisions taken can have adverse effect of the South African economy, same way a drop in oil prices affects the Nigerian economy.
If the new South African President , Cyril Ramaphosa, just months into his tenure changes the constitution and legalizes what is essentially theft of private property, it risked being kicked out of the Common Wealth and AGOA. It will take South Africa years to recover from the negative consequences that will ensue. This will be another Zimbabwe in the making.