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In a speech to the African Farmers Association yesterday, Jacob Zuma made farmers a generous offer. So generous, in fact, that it is an offer they can’t refuse. His speech was straight from the books of a protection racket.
This is what Don Michael Corleone had in mind when he said: “Politics and crime, they’re the same thing.”
Step 1: Express appreciation.
Step 2: Warn about impending doom.
Step 3: Portray yourself as the saviour.
Step 4: If you order now, you can have all of this for only…
Step 5: But wait, there’s more! It is an offer you can’t refuse.
Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth.
Step 1: Zuma assures farmers of his good intentions, and expresses his appreciation for the important role that they play in project South Africa.
The conference agenda indicates that you are correctly focusing on the role that can be played by farmer organisations and cooperatives in enhancing development and food security in our country and for our people.
Step 2: Impending doom!
The conference takes place at a time when the international community, including South Africa, is faced with the threat of rising food prices.
These conditions, combined with challenges such as climate change and uncertainty around land reform, have resulted in a decrease in the number of commercial farmers.
Step 3: Fortunately, the government can save you.
We are aware that in order to engage in agricultural production, even in this difficult period, farmers will need improved support. [...]
As government, we are committed to play our part in the provision of finance, the opening of new markets in our country and in other parts of the world as well as the provision of implements and inputs.
In doing so, we are delivering on the mandate that is enshrined in the Freedom Charter, and which directs government to provide tillers of the land with tractors, implements, seeds and fertiliser that is needed and necessary for farming.
For example, he says, farmers need training. (Yeah right, like a government official somewhere in an air-cooled, 9h00 to 16h00-job can teach farmers anything. Farmers are producing in spite of government – not thanks to it.)
Step 4a: The price. If you order now, you can have all of this for only…
Ladies and gentlemen,
We cannot talk about improving food security without referring to land reform. [...]
Step 4b: Some fine print on the price
[Here's an innovative new plan with] a district based approach to land reform and its financing. It proposes that each district should establish a district land reform committee where all stakeholders are involved. [Read: Let's put the matter to a vote in a forum stacked against the property owner.]
This committee will be responsible for identifying 20 percent of the commercial agricultural land in the district and giving commercial farmers the option of assisting its transfer to black farmers. [...]
Firstly, it will entail identifying land readily available from land already in the market; land where the farmer is under severe financial pressure; land held by an absentee landlord willing to exit; and land in a deceased estate. In this way, land can be found without distorting markets. [What? How could this possibly not distort markets? And too bad about that farm that's been in the family for generations.]
Secondly, after being identified, the land would be bought by the state at 50 percent of market value (which is closer to its fair productive value). [Here's that magical 50% people use when they want to pretend that they aren't making completely arbitrary statements. Keep an eye out for the Valuer General sure to be appointed soon, to make pronouncements on why the market price isn't the "fair" price.] The shortfall of the current owner will be made up by cash or in-kind contributions from the commercial farmers in the district who volunteer to participate. [So some farmers will now finance the expropriation of their fellow farmers? All the more reason for farmers to try and be the first off something that the government tries its best to turn into a sinking ship.]
Step 5: But wait, there’s more! This is an offer you can’t refuse: if you don’t pay up, we’re going to come and take even more.
[I]n exchange, commercial farmers will be protected from losing their land and gain black economic empowerment status. This should remove the uncertainty and mistrust that surrounds land reform and the related loss of investor confidence.
Folks, the only reason the above extortion isn’t called criminal, is because it is committed by the government. Observe that “Complete Perversion of the Law” and “Legal Plunder” against which Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) warned us in The Law.
Legal plunder defined: See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.