Coronavirus / Economic Developments / Politics

Battle Over Gun and Property Rights in South Africa Poses a Warning for America

AMAC Exclusive By: Daniel Roman

South Africa

A government determined to erase constitutional rights to private gun ownership? A crime wave that has seen the country approach warzone levels even before weeks of riots burned more than 1,000 shopping malls to the ground and forced the deployment of the army? A political opposition which stokes racial tensions to encourage the violence? COVID running rampant as the national and local governments accuse each other of politicizing the response? Are we talking about the United States? Thankfully, not this year at least.

But South Africa’s road from laboratory for liberal democracy to near failed state should still concern Americans. While many conservatives in the United States have rightly pointed to the similarities between liberal assaults on individual liberty at home and the underlying trends that led to South Africa’s democratic crisis, the even more urgent reality may be the failure of the world community – and especially the Biden administration – to take what steps it can to recognize and remedy this increasingly alarming situation.

South Africa in 2021, is, to put it simply, in a state of collapse. COVID-19 is now sweeping throughout the country in what is either a fourth or fifth wave depending on who is doing the counting. Officially, COVID is killing between 500 and 700 South Africans per day – the equivalent of 2,500 to 3,500 daily deaths in the United States – but the South African Medical Association suggests the real toll could be around three times higher. This has come despite two national lockdowns which crippled the economy and triggered riots when the government attempted to enforce them by banning alcohol sales. Then, in June, the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma on charges of corruption set off a wave of nationwide riots which forced the deployment of the army and pushed the country toward civil war.

South Africa was already in dire condition before COVID-19 hit, and Mr. Zuma bears a large degree of responsibility for the situation. Zuma was an almost comically corrupt figure, who introduced the term “state capture” into South African discourse by effectively trying to sell the nation’s assets off to a business family of Indian descent, the Guptas. His tenure also saw exponential increases in crime, corruption, and HIV cases. Zuma famously suggested that showering after sexual intercourse could cure AIDs, and bragged about the method’s effectiveness with his many wives.

The African National Congress (ANC), a leftist political party that has won comfortable majorities in the South Africa government since the end of apartheid, removed Zuma in 2018, replacing him with Cyril Ramaphosa. But the victory was a pyrrhic one for “moderates.” Ramaphosa became President, but Zuma’s allies held onto other key positions in the ANC, from which they waged a populist campaign against Ramaphosa, a businessman who owns several mining concerns, attacking him as a capitalist and “white,” despite the fact that Ramaphosa is of African descent.

Zuma supporters also sought to stoke ethnic conflict. Zuma was South Africa’s first and only Zulu President. Ramaphosa, like Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, is Xhosa, and the recent riots have taken on the undertone of a tribal conflict.

The unrest in South Africa is also complicated by an economic component, as the ANC has done little to solve the nation’s financial woes. Instead, they have offered concessions to extremists, such as Julius Malema, the Mugabe-imitating former ANC youth league leader who now heads the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party. Earlier this year, Malema threatened to call on his supporters to join rioters if Ramaphosa called out the army against the rebels. Rather than crushing these domestic terrorists, who see a path to power in stirring up ethnic and racial resentment so they can establish a dictatorship, Ramaphosa and his allies have been appeasing them.

But despite the litany of calamities facing South Africa with regard to crime, COVID, and economic tumult, it was a constitutional crisis which ultimately sparked the most recent round of riots. The ANC had struck a deal with Malema’s EFF to amend the South African Constitution to allow for the seizure of private property without compensation and to remove the right to bear arms from private citizens.

Liberals in the United States have often mocked the idea that there is any link between the right to bear arms and other rights found in the Constitution, like the right to own property, but the ANC and EFF clearly felt differently. That the two reforms were pared demonstrates how inseparable they are. The right to bear arms is the right to defend property. Without it, individuals are entirely dependent on the police to defend their land or property – something made impossible in South Africa by the sheer magnitude of violence rocking the country. In the face of such unrest, South Africans of all races have formed vigilante groups to defend their homes.

This is not what the ANC or its allies want. They want to redistribute land and assets without the need to pay compensation in money they don’t have. The easiest way to do that is if property owners are physically driven off their land by mobs or criminals, at which point the government can claim the land has been abandoned and can therefore be seized without compensation.

While the government has tried to argue the riots “prove” that there are too many guns in South Africa, their effort has instead galvanized the opposition, with more than 200,000 people showing up to local consultations, braving COVID and riots to register their displeasure. The opposition Democratic Alliance declared “the amendments suggested would severely hamper any citizen’s rights to protect themselves – something that cannot be judged lightly, particularly given the wide-spread destruction and chaos that reigned in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng two weeks ago and left residents there to fend for themselves when the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies failed utterly to protect communities from violence and looting.” Sound familiar?

South African gun owners – and democracy itself – may receive a stay of execution due to the breakdown in relations between Ramaphosa’s ANC and the EFF following the riots. But Ramaphosa increasingly appears a spent force. He is reliant on the indulgence of the primarily white and mixed race center-right opposition parties to keep him in office out of fear that an even worse option like Malema may take his place, but this is a holding pattern that appears to be postponing the inevitable. They can keep him in office as President for now in exchange for delaying the constitutional changes, but they cannot force the ANC to keep him as party leader. The real danger will come if and when the ANC decides to ally itself with the street, having extracted whatever wealth it can from its middle class and white “allies.”

South Africa is still Africa’s largest economy. Its collapse into a failed state would represent what some would argue to be a geopolitical cataclysm. Given the history of the country, any crack up is not likely to be pretty. Joe Biden and other world leaders need a plan to stop South Africa burning if they hope to prevent a tragedy of vast proportions.

Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

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1 year ago

Hmmmm..And here we were told all the blacks driving out the white farmers would lead to a vast improvement to South Africa…….
Lol. You tribal thugs really should stop your lying.
And no, the US had better let YOU fix what YOU caused. Have fun.

1 year ago

Like it or not, apartheid is what kept the country flourishing. In their rush to capitulate to the blacks, people were put in charge that were unqualified, to say the least. Their main objective was to punish Caucasians. I guess the whole world can see how that turned out.

Jim Hoyt
1 year ago

This situation in Africa, where property was confiscated from landowners, has been going on for years. I believe President Obama ignored the plight of land owners also, but so did Trump. Unfortunately the farmers being driven off with deadly force were primarily white Christians.
Prove me wrong.

John Cruckshank
1 year ago

I would like to have you DELETE this pain in the ass comment section that invades my reading of the texts.

1 year ago

You are not conscripted to come here, delete yourself.

1 year ago
Reply to  Dr.C

Bye, bye!

Elton Yancey
1 year ago

You’re free. go somewhere else.

JJ Johnson-Smith
1 year ago

Too much of this sounds frighteningly familiar. Still, as I watch Biden prepare to send our exhausted troops back into Afghanistan, I can’t help but feel that America needs to get it’s meddling nose OUT of the business of the Middle East AND Africa. It is not our fight. Our own country is a MESS, and we have a lot of our OWN work to do, and I am tired and angry with the idea of sending our Soldiers back into Harm’s Way. It is not our job to police the world, but to stand with our allies, and strengthen the protection of our home country. WE need sealed borders, a strong military, and Constitutional Leaders. Spend the money being sent to and spent on, other countries problems, on improving the security, safety, and superiority of AMERICA.

1 year ago

Obiden (the puppet POTUS) hasn’t made one decision on his own since day one. Also, NONE of what you just proposed fits in with the dimocraps game plan!!

1 year ago

I for only one American am well armed as are millions of other REAL Americans!
I am not concerned about some third world backward country ruled by gang Lords and Corrupt Leaders. We The People are an entirely different society. We have an armed population with millions of trained Veterans and firearms owners that cherish our freedom and WILL defend it to the DEATH against ANY enemy foreign or DOMESTIC!

Michael R Brunetti
1 year ago

I think this is where we are headed. I also believe that we are the modern Romans.

1 year ago

This country is definitely following the path that led to end of the Roman Empire (western branch): Debt, Corruption, Free Handouts, Abominations (Abortion, Same-sex relations), Illegal Immigrants flooding the country, too many foreigners serving in the military. The path is clear.

1 year ago
Reply to  Max

In a guerilla war today small arms users will be out-gunned with air and drone-power,, armor rockets, and smart-bombs unless a sizeable portion of active military defects. I gather that the powers in charge have taken (or are taking) charge of that item by cleaning their military “house”. Finding ways to behead the snake is less deadly for patriots.

1 year ago

Don’t know if it is true but I heard that when general tojo was asked why he wasn’t high on invading the U.S. mainland he replied something to the effect, “they all have guns over there, though would be shooting at us from behind every tree”. Again, don’t know if it is true but think about in terms of democrat/communist attempted takeover.

Dave D
1 year ago
Reply to  edward

It’s true!!

1 year ago

Communism works a lot easier if there is no concern about guns to defend against its dominance. The Democrat Party is subtly preparing to ready itself for the Communistic takeover of USA governance. And it would be a lot easier if they didn’t have to worry about guns from an opposition.

1 year ago

I originally joined AMAC in order to stop sending money to AARP. I didn’t realize how hard hitting their news stories are. Keep up the good work!

1 year ago

This could be coming to your neighborhood with the idiots in our government!! Look Out! Be Prepared to fight back!

Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

Another case where the US government backed a government WORSE than the one before. Mandela (or at least his wife) was Communist; why would we praise him? His followers have no knowledge of how to properly run a country and no desire to do it democratically.

kat perk
1 year ago

That’s what happens when a bunch of morons run a country. Sound familiar?

1 year ago
Reply to  kat perk

The Biden/Harris Administration

Gunny Joe
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul

Add fdr, carter, clinton, and congress men/senators that do not work for the people but their self.

1 year ago
Reply to  kat perk

Joe Stalin and Uncle Adolf did it very effectively and ended badly ask Mussolini?

1 year ago

Please pay attention to the news of this situation. I know people who live there and they have been warning myself and others about their plight and it pains me to write that many of the stepping stones to the calamity that moderate people face there are presenting themselves here. it is truly a cautionary tale for our nation.

1 year ago

People around the world are getting payback from the side they have chosen. Bible prediction is that God will judge the world, and it appears to be coming soon. The only way to not be part of it is to accept Christ Jesus as savior. God loves us, His creation, but many have chosen His enemy Satan. They may not know it, but when they put money, power, self interests before God, they are serving the devil. God has offered grace (a gift not deserved but free), but many reject it. Life here is short. Eternity is forever. God’s heaven is wonderful. No one is going to take the money or other things they’ve striven for with them when they die. The billionaires and the poor are on equal ground before God. Either can gain Heaven by accepting salvation through Christ. Of course they must be sincere in asking Him to save them.

brer rabbit
1 year ago
Reply to  gin

Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle…………

Stephen Russell
1 year ago

So Africa embraces CRT say 1 thus violence today

R.J. from Arizona
1 year ago

This is first I have heard on SA. Probably because our inept news companies don’t know where SA is located. 2. Biden will do nothing. He’s lost in US let alone a foreign country. 3. Simularaties between SA and USA are alarming. God help us.

1 year ago

For world news, you need to get a site outside of the USA. Most of this country’s media are owned by foreign nationals that only allow what they think the American citizen needs to know. Everything else remains hidden from us.

Deploreable Sam
1 year ago

About the last thing South Africa needs is some clueless phuque up like fiden sticking his two cents into the situation.

J. Farley
1 year ago

Lets see, take away a persons rights, make them, kiss the governments backside and then tell them that they cannot make choices for themselves and their personal health decisions are not theirs to make and then make the country they live in not much better than a 3rd world country and then tax them like there is no tomorrow and we are suppose to be all warm and fuzzy and say what a great county, NOT, some of us will fight like hell.
Buy more guns and ammo.

1 year ago

Patriots, With no mass civil disobedience in this country America is doomed.
The apathy will deliver us from the current Socialism into Communism by 2022 or before. History has taught that most civilized nations have a 200 year life span before their demise by decay from within.
Sadly America is long past due for destruction. There are no morals or ethics in elected politicians. Americans have a future only with the boot of oppression on their necks. I doubt Americans have the guts for civil war. They are a population of sheep to the slaughter.
In our current climate of apathy I have little hope for America the Beautiful .

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