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Thousands of people live in Marikana informal settlement on private land. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp, file)
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The ANC allowed a whole year of destabilisation of the agricultural sector and undermining of Brand SA purely because it didn't want to be seen to be outdone by the EFF, writes Max du Preez.
If the new Expropriation Bill
that is going to be published any day now is promulgated by Parliament next
year, there will be no need to change the property clause in the Constitution.
It will then be clear to
everybody that the emotional land debate that has caused so much division,
uncertainty and a decline in investor confidence was about political
contestation and cheap populism rather than the actual redistribution of land.
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The ANC didn't care much
about land redistribution during the first 23 years after we became a democracy.
Land reform and restitution proceeded at a snail's pace and came to a virtual
standstill during the Zuma years.
The EFF then evoked the land
issue and last year the ANC copied them because it has no own ideological
direction and was infected by the populist virus themselves.
The ANC leadership knew very
well that the Constitution wasn't the stumbling block hindering radical land
redistribution, but it didn't have the guts to refuse to take part in a sham
that mostly served to whip up anti-white sentiment.
They knew that, because in
November last year a panel of eminent experts led by the ANC's own Kgalema
Motlanthe told them so in the High-Level Panel Report commissioned by Parliament.
The ANC knew that there was
broad consensus among constitutional experts that Section 25 of the Constitution
provided for the expropriation of land and property, under specific conditions
also with no or very little compensation.
The ANC never tested this by
expropriating property and having the Constitutional Court pronounce on it.
The Constitution commands the
state to formulate legislation that will facilitate citizens getting access to
The new Expropriation Bill
accepted by Cabinet last week is, at last, that legislation.
READ: Contestation should be over parameters not the instrument of expropriation without compensation
The bill makes explicit what
is implicit in the Constitution, as the deputy minister responsible for the
bill, Jeremy Cronin, has said several times recently.
It stipulates that
compensation could also be zero under these circumstances: land occupied by
labour tenants, land purely held for speculative purposes, property abandoned
by owners and land with value similar or lower than the state's subsidies or
investment in it.
Only the stipulation about
land held for purely speculative purposes is mildly controversial and will
probably end up before the Constitutional Court, but the others should be
acceptable by all political parties.
The bill isn't trying to defy
Section 25 (1) of the Constitution that reads: "No one may be deprived of
property except in terms of law of general application, and no law may permit
arbitrary deprivation of property."
If it did, it would probably
have been deemed to be contrary to Section 1 (c) of the Constitution that
states that the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law are part of
the founding principles that may only be changed with a parliamentary majority
But the ANC, under pressure
from the Zuma faction, made expropriation without compensation official ANC
policy at the Nasrec conference a year ago, and will now push an amendement to
the Constitution through anyway.
As I understand it, it will
simply mean that a sentence will be added to Section 25:3 (3) that reads that zero
compensation could also be regarded as "just and equitable" under
certain specific circumstances, circumstances then spelled out in legislation.
Again, making explicit what is implicit.
It must therefore be clear
that whatever happens next year, there can never be any arbitrary confiscation
of property and that it is highly unlikely that any functioning commercial
farms that have no state subsidies or investment will be expriopriated with no
or very little compensation.
So the ANC allowed a whole
year of destabilisation of the agricultural sector and undermining of Brand SA
purely because it didn't want to be seen to be outdone by the EFF.
After all had been said and
done, the burning question still remains how millions of homeless and landless
people in cities and towns will be helped to own their own piece of land and
how tens of thousands of aspirant farmers will be established on the land.
Expropriation with little or
no compensation will do very little to solve this problem.
So we're back to the problems
explained by the High-Level Panel Report: the state's incompetence, lack of
capacity and corruption.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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