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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Australia mulls fast-track visas for white South African farmers

Every heard of the  Lancaster House Agreement, signed on 21 Decr 1979 ~ the agreement that covered the Independence Constitution, pre-independence arrangements and a ceasefire. It was named after Lancaster House in London, where the parties interested to the settlement attended the conference ?

Science often present newer facts and now a new DNA study has found that our forefathers interbred with another mysterious group of hominins, the Denisovans, on at least two occasions.  Today, around 5 per cent of the DNA of some Australasians – particularly people from Papua New Guinea – is Denisovans. Now, researchers have found two distinct modern human genomes - one from Oceania and another from East Asia - both have distinct Denisovan ancestry.  The genomes are also completely different, suggesting there were at least two separate waves of prehistoric intermingling between 200,000 and 50,000 years ago.  The Denisovans are an extinct species of human that appear to have lived in Siberia and even down as far as southeast Asia.

Whatever it be ! ~ the first and noble occupation of people has been agriculture and farmers have been the backbone of Nations that thrived on river bed civilizations.  .. .. … and farmers have but been at the receiving end in places !!

In Zimbabwe, farmland has been a central issue in the African nation’s violent struggles over race. Fifteen years ago, the government began seizing property from thousands of white farmers and giving it to blacks as recompense for the abuses of colonial rule. But now, as agricultural output stalls, black landowners are quietly reaching out to white farmers who were thrown off their land. President Robert Mugabe has warned that forging ties with white farmers is a step backward.  For whites who were stripped of their property, Mugabe’s policy of land reform amounted to theft. For blacks who profited from the redistribution, it was justice after nearly a century in which a small group of British settlers and their descendants controlled the country. The rift between those perspectives has long appeared unbridgeable.

Land reform in Zimbabwe officially began in 1980 with the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement, as an effort to more equitably distribute land between black subsistence farmers and white Zimbabweans of European ancestry, who had traditionally enjoyed superior political and economic status. The programme's targets were intended to alter the ethnic balance of land ownership. Land hunger was at the centre of the Rhodesian Bush War, and was addressed at Lancaster House, which sought to concede equitable redistribution to the landless without damaging the white farmers' vital contribution to Zimbabwe's economy. At independence from the United Kingdom in 1980, the Zimbabwean authorities were empowered to initiate the necessary reforms; as long as land was bought and sold on a willing basis, the British government would finance half the cost.  In the late 1990s, Prime Minister Tony Blair terminated this arrangement when funds available from Margaret Thatcher's administration were exhausted, repudiating all commitments to land reform.  

The Lancaster House Agreement, signed on 21 Dec 1979, allowed for the creation and recognition of the Republic of Zimbabwe, replacing the unrecognised state of Rhodesia created by Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. The parties represented during the conference were: the British Government, the Patriotic Front led by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, ZAPU (Zimbabwe African Peoples Union) and ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) and the Zimbabwe Rhodesia government, represented by Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Ian Smith.

Now the land war spills elsewhere too .. .. MailOnline reports of Australia's conservative government  considering fast-tracking visas for white South African farmers so they can flee their 'horrific circumstances' for a 'civilised country'. The South African parliament recently passed a motion which may lead to white farmers having their land seized and given to black owners without compensation.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who came to power last month, has vowed to 'escalate the pace' of redistributing land from wealthy whites to poorer blacks. Addressing the issue, Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton cited reports of land seizures and violence targeting the white farmers and insisted 'people do need help'. The offer was swiftly rebuffed by South Africa, with a government spokesman saying that no section of the country's population was in any danger.   Dutton, who oversees immigration and has drawn international criticism for heading a tough crackdown on asylum-seekers from Asia and the Middle East, said the South Africans deserve 'special attention' for acceptance on refugee or humanitarian grounds.  He is quoted as saying that Australia is investigating what visas can be offered to white South African farmers who are facing violence and land seizures at home.  However, But South African government spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya told the BBC  that the land redistribution programme will be done according to the law.   

Dutton's comments come just months after asylum-seekers and refugees held by Australia in a remote Pacific camp were awarded Aus$70 million ($56 million) for being illegally detained and treated negligently in the country's largest human rights class action settlement. Canberra, which denied liability, sends asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat, rather than through official channels, to facilities on Nauru in the Pacific and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.

Dutton indicated that those wanting to leave may be considered under the 'in-country persecution' visa category, or through a refugee-humanitarian program. Normally South Africans have to apply under other categories, including as a skilled worker or through family connections. Nearly 200,000 South Africans already live in Australia.   Late last year, thousands of white farmers blocked roads in South Africa to protest against what they said was an explosion of violence against their communities in rural areas in which many white farmers were killed.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Mar 2018.

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