Debat oor Wet op Naturelle-grondgebied van 1913

2013-06-20
Dr Pieter Mulder

Speaker,

I have two problems with a debate such as this one:

My first problem is that when we talk about history, all the facts, and not only the facts that suite us, should be placed on the table.

The core of the objection against the 1913 Act is that it had divided the land between black and white and that only 13% of the land was given to black people. This is a valid criticism about injustices of the past. But it is based upon today’s facts and not based upon the facts of 1913.

All the maps of 1913 indicate that the Union of South Africa was part of British South Africa. British South Africa in 1913 consisted of South Africa and the three former protectorates, today known as Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. In 1913 there was no question that these protectorates would one day become independent states. Botswana was until 1965 still managed from Mahikeng in South Africa. It was generally accepted that the protectorates would in the long run be incorporated into South Africa. That is why the South Africa Act of 1909, which was approved by the British parliament, provided for the incorporation of these three areas into South Africa at a later stage.

In the thoughts of many, the surface of these areas was included in the land of 1913. The one gets a 40% - 60% land distribution and even a 50 – 50 depending of how it is calculated. Until after the 1936 Act, there were attempts to incorporate these protectorates into South Africa.

I do not see it as my responsibility to try and defend 1913. What I do believe, is that it would only be reasonable, if in our criticism, we to try and understand all the arguments and thoughts of 1913.

Why did this incorporation not succeed?

Because there also other views. The chiefs of these protectorates seriously objected to the British in London against incorporation. Eventually they succeeded and in 1966 and 68 these areas became independent, which created the current set of facts.

My second problem: It is not wrong to hold debates on the past. But such a debate is only sensible if something could be learnt from it from the future.

The past cannot be changed through a lot of talking. That is why the FF Plus does not believe in a better past but in a better future. Little has been said about what we have learnt from the past and how we can succeed with land reform in 2013 without causing famine. Nothing has been said about how food will be provided for 52 million South Africans, of whom 70%  will shortly be living in urban areas and this, while we only have 13% of good agricultural land. Little has been said about how we could better utilise the thousands of hectares of communal land.

It is the future and this debate which we should be having now if we want to make South Africa a better place for all.