For a country in which most people are at least bilingual, it’s amazing how easily we talk past each other. That’s particularly true of the land debates, where proposals diverge in aims and methods. One set of demands centres on historic injustices and the need to disrupt SA’s extraordinarily inequitable economic and social systems; the other targets practical measures to raise living standards by embedding people as producers in formal farm value chains. Expropriation without compensation is an attractive slogan because, 25 years after the transition to democracy, the majority of South Africans are still disempowered economically, socially and politically. Even if their living conditions have improved, most still do not feel they have an equal say in society and governance, or a fair income. According to this logic, land theft was a foundation of apartheid, so restoring it to the impoverished will return their dignity, giving them at least some assets. This is the Uber of politi...

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