The discussion around land reform is a conceptual and factual mess. Nobody knows for sure who is going to be identified as black or as white. Nobody knows how the land owners who form a group — company, trust, cooperative and more — will be identified individually by race. Nobody knows whether the date of acquiring a piece of land has a bearing on its vulnerability to expropriation. And many more uncertainties.

Yet this conceptual mess is precisely what our populist politicians are relying upon to advance their agendas. Unfortunately for them, to a growing number of their fellow citizens they appear to be intellectual deadbeats. Whenever Julius Malema appears on TV and opens his mouth he reminds a number of people of George Orwell’s classic definition of a Soviet commissar from the 1930s: "Half gangster, half gramophone".

Yet he is the cat’s paw the ANC is using to stir up the political temperature ahead of the next election. On its own the ANC appears incapable of formulating rational policies on the land issue. So it opts for the leadership of populist demagogues. This is all the more reason not to vote for the ANC in future.

Sean Archer
Cape Town