If Malema isn’t Pol Pot, is he still dangerous?

by Ivo Vegter

In last week’s column, I recalled that “agrarian reform”, as advocated by Julius Malema, evoked a phrase associated with Cambodia’s murderous tyrant, Pol Pot. The comments raised a pertinent question. Was I saying Malema is a genocidal maniac? If not, would this change anything? Do the people even want land?

The parallel drawn last week between Julius Malema and Pol Pot is very powerful if one supposes that all so-called agrarian reform leads to genocide. It isn’t much less powerful if it does so only sometimes.

But what if it doesn’t? Is Malema fighting for something South Africans actually want?

Let’s start with his intent. Assuming it is benign may be hard, given his well-documented tendency to flaunt his power and wealth. The phalanx of heavily-armed bodyguards surrounding the bearer of the Breitling watchled one newspaper to ask with whom he is at war. Another noted hisunsubtle threat to the white Afrikaner organisation that brought charges of hate speech against him over the song “Shoot the Boer”. He reportedly told them they would end up like the Inkatha Freedom Party marchers who were massacred in 1994 outside Shell House, as Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters was known then.

Such ostentation and violent rhetoric does not suggest the psychology one associates with a benevolent leader of the people.

But, to be fair to Malema, when he said South Africa could learn from Zimbabwe on the question of land reform, he did add that the lesson should not extend to “the initial violent method of attacking white people or attacking each other”.

So, let’s suppose he merely seeks the equal redistribution of land amongst people. As his manifesto says, “we believe that it is only through a socialist transformation programme, that we will end the suffering of our people.”

Expropriation without compensation is seldom a peaceful affair. Entire countries have gone up in flames of revolutionary zeal directed at property owners. But even if it were, as he says he wants, will it achieve this goal?

A few immediate counter-examples come to mind. The most obvious is one he raised himself: Zimbabwe. An economist in Harare, Vince Musewe, addressed an open letter to him on this subject. Allow me to quote it at some length.

Read the rest of the article here.

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About Russell Lamberti

Russell Lamberti is a regular contributor to Mises SA. He is Chief Strategist at ETM Analytics, an Austrian-influenced economic research firm based in Johannesburg. Although he wrties about many topics, you'll most often find him slaying patent and copyright law and exposing the biggest bubble in history: fractional reserve banking.
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