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South Africa blocks trade from farms which are ‘too white’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is restricting farms which are less than 51% black-owned. Credit: Getty

November 13, 2023 - 11:55am

The South African government has quietly issued new rules stipulating farms with an annual turnover of more than 10 million rand (about £436,000) will not be permitted to export to the UK or EU if they are too whiteThe restrictions, published at the beginning of November, specify that farms which are less than 51% black-owned must undergo a convoluted black economic empowerment (BEE) certification process, with an accredited BEE certifier, in order to qualify for an export permit.

In response, the South African Agri Initiative (SAAI) and the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, last week lodged a complaint with the trade offices of the EU and UK, arguing that these rules will strangle investment and growth, and violate the rules of fair trade. The head of SAAI argues that these regulations raise insuperable obstacles to the export market for family farms with few employees but a good turnover — that is, farms which employ advanced technology to ensure good yields.

And this, in practice, means white ones. Black-owned farms tend toward subsistence production, producing only around 10% of South Africa’s overall yield; high-tech, high-productivity ones are usually white-owned. And, as SAAI points out, where such enterprises are operated only by family members, it’s difficult to see how ownership or employment could be diversified in order to meet BEE criteria without simply expropriating the farmers. 

SAAI is no stranger to protesting the incursions into South African agriculture of an increasingly racialised bureaucracy. Last June, the body also highlighted new race-based regulations on applying for water licences, arguing that these are similarly impossible for family farms to meet.  

These regulatory changes come against a backdrop of rising hostility to the 7% of South Africa’s population that is white. The Democratic Alliance recently called for an inquiry into a reported escalation in murders of white South Africans on remote farms. And recent footage of crowds at a political rally chanting “Kill The Boer” doubtless did little to allay fears of persecution, for all that the ruling ANC insists the chant is a way of remembering South African history, not a literal incitement to murder.

It remains to be seen whether the UK will make any response to SAAI’s complaint, or comment more broadly on South Africa’s rollout of race-differentiated bureaucracy. But how, or even if, we respond feels significant.

I was born into a Britain that, officially at least, held a sincere commitment to racial equality. But, as the febrile events that followed Hamas’s attack last month have demonstrated, this consensus is now balanced on a knife-edge against a newer public politics of race — roiled by tribal hostilities and competing grievances. 

Against this old world, I can easily imagine Kemi Badenoch taking a clear stand for free trade, and against the imposition of race-based restrictions on trade. In light of the emerging one, though, it’s far from clear that we in Britain even have the standing to do so any more. Are we opposed to, or on board with, institutionalising a two-tier model of rule based on identity or politics? We should watch how (or whether) the UK Government responds to the SAAI complaint. It may offer important clues as to our own direction of travel.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Chipoko
Chipoko
8 months ago

Extreme racism, including death chants, is fine provided its aimed at Whites or Jews. Welcome to the brave new world!

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago

Who deserves asylum in the UK?
White South Africans, facing persecution for their race, ought to be high up the list.

Andrea X
Andrea X
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

I have personally come across a couple who have left SA because too dangerous. Definitely they should be high on the list!

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I know a few. They have either left the country or watched as their children do, then go home in sit in the dark during the daily power cuts. It’s totally finished now.

Paul Monahan
Paul Monahan
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Enough bigots in the uk without bringing white fascists

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

Racism suits you.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

They aren’t “fascists”. Talk about self loathing. Deluded left wingers naively think that black racists give a toss about them. A number of progressives already killed in dangerous areas of the US where the black crime problem is appalling (of course most of the victims are of the same race).

But back to your naive comfort zone, no doubt on the side of the extreme right wing theocratic Hamas. But not “white”, that’s the main thing…..

Last edited 8 months ago by Andrew Fisher
William Brand
William Brand
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

They are being persecuted because they are white. De Kerk and Mandella forgot to get a treaty that guaranteed white South Africans the right of immigration to America when South Africa changed its master race. America put them in this position, and it is America’s duty to clean up its mess.

John Murray
John Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Honestly that was my exact reaction. Might pick up some useful rugby players as a bonus too.

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Aren’t they Dutch?
The Netherlands would make more sense.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
8 months ago

Lawful expropriation by decree. Of course when the 51% black owner wants to enjoy the profits without investing back into the farm the collapse in the productivity of the farms will merely be regarded as white sabotage. Isn’t racist intersectional communism wonderful – it always has an answer as to why things are getting worse for the population.

odd taff
odd taff
8 months ago

Kick the farmers off the land and what do you get = famine. Since collectivisation in the Old Soviet Union several countries have tried “land reform” and the result has been reduced production. Zimbabwe is a firm example. It was formerly known as the breadbasket of Africa now it can’t feed itself.

Angelique Todesco
Angelique Todesco
8 months ago
Reply to  odd taff

Bread basket to basket case in a few short decades sadly.

Mrs R
Mrs R
7 months ago
Reply to  odd taff

Reminds me of the famine that followed the systematic genocide and incarceration of Kulaks in soviet Russia and Ukraine. Slaughtered or stripped of everything they ever owned for the sin of owning and working productive farms.

John Pade
John Pade
8 months ago

Blame and ingratitude are expected but murder is a bit too far. The spiral of South Africa is Rhodesia all over again, Rhodesia now is South Africa in 2040 or so, allowing for mining discoveries.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago
Reply to  John Pade

But with no white people how will they exploit the mining discoveries

Mint Julip
Mint Julip
8 months ago

The Chinese will do it for them.

William Brand
William Brand
8 months ago

Chinese will become the new master race in Africa

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

When Mr. Beast is done building the water wells in Kenya that it’s own government is curiously incapable of providing (given all the international aid money it has sucked up for decades), maybe he could go to South Africa and teach them how farms work.
Oooops, Mr. Beast is white.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago

Welcome to the 21st century Stone Age.

Jim M
Jim M
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

That’s just how they are. Let them starve.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
8 months ago

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Unless the teacher is a white guy. In which case, better to starve than admit he was right.

Last edited 8 months ago by Kirk Susong
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
8 months ago

Trillions of dollars of aid pumped into Africa since the 50s. Result poverty. Zero aid to SE Asia. Result prosperity. Dambisa Moyo has an explanation.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Aid-working-another-Africa/dp/0141031182

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
8 months ago

What a depressingly short-sighted policy – you’d think South Africa would be hungry for international trade opportunities.

Jim M
Jim M
8 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Who wants that when you can steal. Look at the race of all the shoplifters in the US. Low impulse control humans.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
8 months ago

In the once-and-present apartheid state of South Africa, racism is back and black. “Too white”? Seriously? If this isn’t blatant racism, and a form of economic apartheid, then the Pope isn’t Catholic. (Which, admittedly, may not be the best analogy.)

D Walsh
D Walsh
8 months ago

It’s all so tiresome

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

And so sad. To see the devolution of humanity.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
8 months ago

If you haven’t read Disgrace by JM Coetzee, do so.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Yes, it’s an apt parable for what is happening in the West.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
8 months ago

South Africa = Zimbabwe 20-25 years ago.

Waffles
Waffles
8 months ago

“… a backdrop of rising hostility to the 7% of South Africa’s population that is white”

Never let your race become a minority. You can’t trust other races to be fair. Jews know they need at least one part of the world where they are the majority, and so do White people.

William Brand
William Brand
8 months ago

America took the Boers country to appease liberal and black Americans. Now the oppressed white population needs to immigrate. When Mandela and De Klerk agreed to end white rule the whites failed to get a right to move to the USA enshrined in a treaty. It will cost a fortune to evacuate white South Africa but America should pay it

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
8 months ago

It’s as though the ANC are TRYING to turn South Africa into another Zimbabwe. Who do they represent?

Not the black South Africans, whose lives will be made miserable if that happens. Certainly not the whites. Themselves?

Yup.

William Brand
William Brand
7 months ago

This comment really needs a fresh topic to attach to, but I did not see any way to become a new columnist. I would love to become an influencer. I am perfect for unheard totally thinking outside the box.
Recently The Jewish Anti-defamation league fired its most powerful order to mob attack a white immigrant from South Africa Ed Musk. His evil tweet seems too mild for the firestorm he received. It resembled my cat’s fate when attacked by a flock of birds. Musk seems to blame the Jews for the loss of his native country. In this case he has a valid case. Jews and liberals led the attack on Apartheid. America ordered South Africa to abolish it. Now Apartheid is returning just reversed. Why did The Anti-Defamation league choose Musk as a target while half of the Democratic party is calling for the genocide of the Jewish population of Israel. Jews have long thought that their protectors were left wing types, and their enemies were Christian conservatives. Catholics murdered Jews with the inquisition. Now they have been betrayed by their left-wing friends and their support comes from Christian evangelicals who note that after the rapture the Bible says God will turn back to the Jews. The Establishment of Israel set the clock ticking for the imminent end of the world. The Anti-Defamation Attack on Musk results from an inability of Jews to realize that they must turn their guns 180 degrees. Old friends are now enemies and old enemies are new friends. The left also dumped the white working class who had nowhere to turn but that corrupt idiot Trump. A wise Jew will hold nose and vote Trump in the next election.

William Brand
William Brand
7 months ago

Look at Sudan. North African Arabs do not consider themselves black although they carry far more black ancestry than American Negros. Any white Ancestry coming from slave girls sold by Vikings or captured by Barbary pirates. In the Middle Ages Europe’s main export was peasant women sold by Nobels to fill Arab Harems. I saw a video of genocidal Arab racial violence against Blacks including a word that translates as n****r. Not a single liberal voice was raised to stop this genocide. They scream against Israel but do not seem to see genocide by non-whites. I guess that if subhuman nonwhites do it is OK since what can you expect from an inferior race. If whites do it, then they show that they do not have the refined sensibilities expected of superior beings.

Hennie Booysen
Hennie Booysen
8 months ago

The above “facts” have been refuted. I understand that there are deadlines to be met and a headline of this nature is certainly attention grabbing and feeds into a certain narrative. But perhaps a bit of fact checking should first be done.
https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/government-denies-changes-to-farm-export-rules-based-on-race/
https://twitter.com/WandileSihlobo/status/1723978529245671513
https://www.news24.com/fin24/economy/fact-check-no-white-farmers-dont-need-black-ownership-to-export-20231113

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
8 months ago
Reply to  Hennie Booysen

As I read the Government Gazette notice it’ll affect wine farmers as also, I assume, olive. Additionally I could see it targeting cooperatives and fruit packing companies. I wouldn’t be so sanguine, as you appear to be. Or accusatory.