Opinion: Trumped By A Danish, Or Buy The Beloved Country

September 27, 2019

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Recently, if American media was to be believed, Donald Trump was apparently considering buying the island of Greenland. This was not the first time that Greenland was on the market and not the first time that the US has attempted to procure it. In 1946, former US President Harry Truman tried and failed to do so. Which is probably one of the primary reasons that Trump wanted to secure this little piece of real estate.

According to reports, for Donald Trump, the purchase was about a number of things: mineral resources, the China trade war, military positioning in respect of Russia and legacy creation.

Greenland is an autonomous region that pretty much runs itself but is owned by Denmark. I guess much like Bophuthatswana was, without the apartheid. Or Sun City. Or the weather.

The rationale behind this move involved Greenland’s natural resources, which the US would quite like to control. It is also strategically placed because of its proximity to Russia and would make a perfect spot for a US airbase.

Whereas my first instinct was to laugh off the idea, on further contemplation I wondered if it would be such a terrible idea for him to contemplate the purchase of South Africa. It’s not, after all, as if the country (or at least a good portion of it) hadn’t been sold before by our former President Jacob Zuma. The only difference is that some years later we still are not clear on the value and it is the country’s citizens who are actually paying the price.

Following this thought, I wondered further, how we could let them know that we might consider putting ourselves back on the market. Why not, take the bull by the horns (so to speak) and launch a marketing campaign? Why not create an advert for the sale of South Africa, that I think would look something like this:

Position. Position. Position! This magnificent north-facing country situated at the tip of Africa (that’s the big continent just across the Atlantic Ocean), right alongside Nambia ,is a jewel in the crown of the continent.

It’s a fixer upper! Needs TLC, a lick of paint and perhaps some foundation work (read infrastructure) to enhance its natural splendour. This grand old lady has it all. Magnificent vistas, a concentration of rich natural resources, a rainbow nation, and plenty of room for the growing family. The country has no natural disasters to speak of (please read the fine print where the SABC is excluded from the definition of ‘natural’).

South Africa offers a unique opportunity for the discerning buyer. For further information please contact any of the many land experts.”

There are a number of concerns of course. Given the Eskom situation, obtaining an electrical compliance certificate might be problematic, and we would need to make sure (contractually) that Steve Hofmeyr is not considered to be a latent defect. Tracking down the current owners of the country might also be a challenge, but as they have recently celebrated a family wedding in India, it is assumed that their whereabouts might be known.

That said, South Africa still has to be a better option for Trump than Greenland is. Without meaning to disparage that icy island, the US already owns Alaska – surely there is a need for diversity. As a property guy, surely, he recognises the need to spread risk? And if there is anything that we are good at, its “risk:” for reference please contact Moody’s.

Greenland is apparently costing Denmark around $700 million per year, which Trump believed was a bargaining tool. The Financial Mail estimates the value of Greenland’s rare earth minerals and strategic military positions to be around $1.1 trillion, but there is no indication at what level Donald Trump values the country.

There was never a firm indication of interest from Denmark. Quite the contrary, with the Danish Prime Minister saying, ““Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously.”

Me too – because if Greenland is not a serious seller, then maybe South Africa should consider having a show day.


Howard Feldman is the author of two successful books – Carry-on Baggage and Tightrope: Musings of Circus South Africa. His third book; Smile, Dammit was released in March 2019.

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