Hundreds of South Africa’s commercial farmers have now gone home after TAU SA’s yearly congress in Pretoria. In the north of the country they wait for the summer rain: their soil is prepared, the seeds are planted and the days grow hotter. Eyes look skyward for the first signs: they wait for the whip of the pre-storm wind, for that scent of moisture, for the quick darkening of the sky. Fifty three million South Africans depend on the country’s commercial farmers for their daily bread.
In his keynote Congress speech, TAU SA president Louis Meintjes covered many points – government propaganda on how “the whites” stole black land; farmworkers’ “rights” (but nothing about the rights of those who created the farms); how the country is run from Luthuli House, making the claim that SA is a democracy something of a farce. Then there’s the ubiquitous Freedom Charter, trotted out at every turn by the ANC, an outdated manifesto, written by white communists (notably Rusty Berstein), whose so-called principles are today only supported by countries like North Korea.
Then there’s the government’s 50/50 plan – the “sharing” of private farms with the workers which has elicited guffaws around the world and caused many potential investors to run for the hills. TAU SA says this latest caprice is a bridge too far. It is patently unacceptable, for many reasons but not least that it will cause hardship and hunger.
Then followed the president’s key question: where will it stop? Each demand’s acquiescence is followed by another demand. Despite reams being written about the empirical impracticality of the ANC’s farm policies, it is clear the government takes no notice. Willy nilly it surges ahead with plans and notions and white papers and green papers, each more ludicrous than the last. Communism’s DNA is well entrenched at Luthuli House, despite its spectacular failures in the twentieth century.
It should be therefore no surprise that the government proffered this policy during pre-1994 negotiations for the transfer of power in South Africa. It is a pity that many who negotiated with the ANC did not take cognizance of communism’s awful legacy.
In his book How Communists Negotiate by American Admiral C. Turner Joy (MacMillan & Co, NY 1955), this Commander in Chief (UN Command) of Naval Forces in the Far East and American representative at the South Korean Armistice Conference at the end of the Korean War set out how the North Korean communists meticulously planned to get as much as they could without giving away anything to the other side. Virtually all of the processes he outlined regarding the negotiation process there were repeated by the ANC pre-1994.
His chapters include “Setting the stage”: Turner says the communists carefully consider the physical circumstances of the negotiating venue. (Remember the luxury game farms and the joint fishing trips of the Codesa protagonists. Then there were the well-dressed ANC big wigs in West Africa sporting English tweeds, briar pipes and a good British accent).
Chapter Two of Turner’s book – “The Delegation” – outlines how the very best intellectual minds and people of good appearance headed the communist teams at Korea. In pre-1994 SA, no rabble nor any toyi toyi-ing mobs were anywhere near the discussion venues. Chapter Three discusses the “Loaded Agenda” – “the Korean communists sought an agenda composed of conclusions favorable to their basic objectives, with some allowances for compromises if it suited them”, wrote Turner.
(It is rumoured that the Mozambican president Samora Machel told Nelson Mandela not to frighten SA’s whites because he would need them during the transition period so that the country wouldn’t disintegrate, as did Mozambique after independence. This practical approach to preserve the functional status quo during the early period after 1994 was sold as forgiveness and reconciliation on the ANC’s part, while in reality it was a calculated policy to preserve stability.)
Chapter Four – “Incidents” – refers to the communist policy of creating violent clashes and disturbances during the negotiation process in order to unnerve the other side who long for peace and want to hurry up the peace process to avoid further violence. (Nelson Mandela refused to renounce violence as a condition for his release. In fact after his release in 1990, violence increased exponentially until power was transferred in 1994.)
The chapter on “The Veto” illustrates a Machiavellian method used to increase the chances of compromise from the other side. The stubborn recalcitrance of the North Korean side was designed to irritate the Americans into accepting some points in order to move ahead as they were tired of the delaying tactics.
Turner’s assessment of how the communists decide what is the truth and what is not is contained in the fascinating chapter “Truth and Consequence”. He says “the distortion of truth as practiced by the communists is a science”. (Remember Bishop Tutu’s assertion that there were “four kinds of truth” in his Truth and Reconciliation Commission summing up! Then we have the current “truth” about land theft, and a new “truth” about South Africa’s history, designed to engender a feeling of guilt among whites. This is entirely misplaced: without white settlement of Southern Africa, there would have been no present-day South Africa.
Whites found people who had no written language, who created no infrastructure and whose lives were beleaguered by battles with other tribes. They had no land titles and lived in primitive dwellings surrounded by sparse agriculture. Why the guilt among whites?)
Inches and Miles
The chapter most apt in relation to the TAU SA president’s speech is entitled “Inches and Miles”. Here Turner puts the case of “give an inch and they’ll take a mile“ so succinctly. He says:
“Communists regard any concession made by their opponents as a sign of weakness. Many Westerners entertain the notion that to accept some part of a communist negotiating proposal will encourage the communists to respond in kind.
“On the contrary such action is likely to induce an even more adamant attitude on their part. If Western negotiators agree to a communist proposal without insisting on an equal concession on another point, the communists conclude that their opponents are in a weak position and then they demand more.”
Thus the “fundamental techniques” to which Turner refers as part and parcel of communists’ negotiating processes are being used in South Africa 60 years after this Korean episode.
Anybody who cared to read a South African Communist Party directive on Reform and Revolution which was circulating in the mid-eighties would have seen that the doctrine was as sacred then as it was from the early days of communism. In para 13.2.3, it says “at the same time we must not mechanically dig in our heels against any future possibility to negotiate or compromise with other forces. We must remember that virtually all revolutionary struggles in the post-war period (Algeria, Vietnam, Angola, Mozambique) reached their final climax at the negotiating table.”
The TAU SA president asks: Do we know what we are supporting? Where will it stop? My personal opinion is that it is irresponsible to support any policy unless you know where it will end and what will be the final goals. He asks the ANC government: what is your end goal and when will you stop?
Herein lies the rub. Give and give and more will be asked of you until there is nothing more to give. Feed the crocodile and it will turn around and devour you. The ANC government cannot be allowed to usurp the commercial farming sector. It is to no one’s advantage. Indeed, it is a catastrophe waiting in the wings.