Those who believe that the race nuances of this issue do not matter have memories that don't stretch to the Morogoro conference, where the race issue was clearly addressed in relation to the Freedom Charter's land clause.

A document of the ANC published after that historic conference in Tanzania in 1969 makes it clear that the ANC was cognisant that the redistribution of land would include all race groups. It makes bold to say that "restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended and all lands shall be open to ownership and use by all people irrespective of race".

How the latter-day ANC does not see this as an issue it needs to address head-on boggles the mind.

Former president Thabo Mbeki's foundation has blown the lid off the disorganised and unprincipled approach of the ANC on the land question. The party's poorly thought-out land redistribution approach has been characterised by mixed messages from the high echelons of the party. Amid the insults now emanating from the ANC, Mbeki underlines that it is sad that in the name of populism the ANC is willing to depart from its century-long commitment to nonracialism. Mbeki is flagging that the ANC has not fully considered what the expropriation of land without compensation will do to race relations in SA, given that the debate is couched in such a manner that white landowners seem to be a specific target of such expropriation. It is fascinating that President Cyril Ramaphosa seems to be very much alive to the possible chasm that may be an unintended consequence of the wild and generalised approach to the issue. Earlier this year he even sought to assure the Afrikaner community that the const...

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