March 6, 2018

Will land reform destroy South Africa's economy?

The Stream also checks in on the issue of the Irish border in Brexit negotiations and the West Virginia teacher strike.


The 500km border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is possibly one of the biggest obstacles in Britain's departure from the EU, and there is no agreed plan of what it will look like after May 2020.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has made several speeches in the past week outlining her vision for the UK's future economic relationship with the EU, and its exit strategy. She has ruled out the return of physical infrastructure on the border between Ireland and the Republic, but provided few details on how to prevent customs checks. She is also pushing for a free trade deal that many EU lawmakers have criticised.

We'll take a look at the issue of the border between Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in ongoing Brexit negotiations.


In the US state of West Virginia, public school teachers are still on strike. They walked out February 22 over low pay and poor insurance benefits. West Virginia public school teachers earn an average salary of about $45,000, making them among the lowest paid educators in the country.

Last week after negotiations, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and the union leaders agreed that teachers and service personnel would receive a five percent pay raise. But the state Senate only passed a four percent raise. Union leaders say the teachers won't return to work until they get the  five percent increase.

Their strike and the social media movement around #55strong has ignited a discussion about educators in the United States, we'll check in with one striking teacher.


On February 27 South African lawmakers voted in favour of a proposal to amend the constitution to allow "land expropriation without compensation". The move was sparked by the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters party Julius Malema, and supported by the ruling ANC.

If the constitutional change is amended there will be a move to reclaim land taken from black people without paying current owners. Defenders say this policy say it helps disenfranchised black South Africans who lost their property rights and land under colonial rule and then apartheid legislation. Critics say it is dividing the country and it will destroy the economy, as it did in Zimbabwe. South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has said there will be "no smash and grab" land reform.

We'll take a look at the political debate around the issue.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Rebecca Diamond @RebeccaDiamond5
Second grade teacher, Kellogg Elementary School

Peter Geoghegan @PeterKGeoghegan
Investigative journalist

Sihle Ngobese @BigDaddyLiberty

Elmien du Plessis @ProfduPlessis
Associate Professor of Law, North-West University   

Read more:

Why Ireland's border is is Brexit's intractable Puzzle - Bloomberg
Expropriating land without compensation is impossible—take it from Zimbabwe - Quartz 

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