No expropriation of land without compensation – Gugile Nkwinti

2014-07-03 09:30

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Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has ruled out expropriation of land without compensation.

This message came after he was grilled by opposition MPs on his new draft land policy during a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting yesterday.

At the same time, he agreed with United Democratic Movement MP Mncedisi Filtane that there should be limits placed on foreign land ownership and that properties should be leased instead.

“Agitating about the expropriation of land doesn’t speak to reality. The reality is that we are a constitutional democracy and we need to follow the Constitution [on the property clause]. We need reasonable policy proposals to reflect the reality of South Africa today,” said Nkwinti.

This followed an appeal by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Andile Mngxitama for property rights in the Constitution to be changed.

Mngxitama said: “We have a land crisis and we have a solution. The organisation I come from has offered you [the ANC] our votes to get a majority to amend the Constitution to enable the expropriation of land without compensation. Till then, everything else that we discuss is irrelevant.”

When pushed by the Democratic Alliance’s Thomas Walters on whether the ANC was considering a change to the Constitution, Nkwinti said: “We just had a conference ... that was never debated”.

He said that when there were claims to the land “we will buy it by using the just and equitable principle in the Constitution”.

All the land reform changes proposed by his department emerged from ANC policy, he said. This included five bills which would be put to Cabinet by the end of the year. Two were the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill, which would deal with the declaration of all foreign and domestic land ownership leading to the establishment of a Land Commission, and the Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Bill to offer legal protection to farm workers.

While Nkwinti objected to Mngxitama’s call on expropriation, he welcomed the EFF’s warning that farmers who feared the implementation of his new draft land proposal could embark on mass evictions.

“The point made about the eviction of farm workers – I have already come across that. We have a panel of lawyers to defend people free of charge. There is a toll-free number, 0800 007 095. I also hope farmers will be wise, knowing that doing that creates a serious social problem for our country and the economy.”

The draft policy proposes a 50% share equity scheme for long-term farm dwellers. The state will pay for the 50% portion, but the money will not go to the farmer. Instead it will be paid into a development and investment trust “jointly owned by the parties constituting the new ownership regime”.

This move has been criticised by some who say that it is, in effect, the expropriation of land.

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