The South African government is nearing a crucial decision over whether to enact land reform which would allow the government to expropriate white-owned land to redistribute back to black people in order to correct massive disparities stemming from the Apartheid era. This has led some people to panic that white people are being persecuted. For some reason, one of these people is Peter Dutton, Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs. Yesterday, he announced that he wants to offer “fast-tracked” humanitarian visas to any white South Africans who feel the need to emigrate.
In an interview with Australia’s Daily Telegraph, Dutton said he was considering offering the visas because, “from what I have seen they do need help from a [civilized] country like ours.” Yep! This white Australian said “civilized.” The article is behind a paywall, but The Guardian helpfully ran some of the better quotes:
“If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance they face.”
“The people we’re talking about want to work hard, they want to contribute to a country like Australia.”
“We want people who want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare. And I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now.”
Now, Australia has literally no special stake in this issue. But Dutton clearly feels he saw the White People Batsignal and had to respond. WHITE VICTIMS? WE’LL TAKE EM!!! AND MAKE IT SNAPPY!!
Keep in mind, Dutton is generally a very racist person. He has said that many refugees applying for humanitarian visas “were illiterate in their own language” and would be “taking Australian jobs.” He also said the Australian government made “mistakes” in accepting immigrants from Middle Eastern and African nations in the 1970s. In January of this year, Dutton claimed that residents of the state of Victoria were “scared to go out to restaurants” due to “African gang violence.” Clearly, Dutton’s policy on refugees comes down to one factor: whether or not they’re white.
Obviously the South African government wasn’t pleased with Dutton’s comments. As HuffPost reports, a spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said today:
“The South African government has been very clear; the matter is now before Parliament and all stakeholders [will] be consulted – and they can also engage with Parliament...”
“There is no reason for any government in the world to suspect that a section of South Africans is [in] danger from their own democratically elected government. That threat does not exist.”
Neo Masithela, the chief executive of the African Farmers Association, said:
“[Dutton] should have at least checked with his counterpart in South Africa (Malusi Gigaba), the president, the embassy, or various agricultural unions like Afasa or AgriSA. It is unfortunate that he made such statements on the whim of his views,” Masithela said.
“We have taken a decision that all agricultural unions in South Africa meet to help farmers in the country, black and white. We are coming together to help everybody understand this parliamentary process.”
Despite making up around 80% of the population, black South Africans only own 4% of private land. This imbalance has its roots in generations of systemic dispossession of black-owned land by white colonizers. Laws like the Native Lands Act of 1913, which made it illegal for Africans to acquire land outside of the 7% (later expanded to 13%) allocated to them, helped cement the divide, ultimately leaving nearly 80% of the country’s land to white people who made up less than 20% of the population. This theft of black capital was a foundational aspect of the brutality of apartheid. So it’s not surprising that there is a movement to rectify this injustice, whatever random racist Australians have to say about it.