Land expropriation: What happens to the farm worker?

2018-03-06 11:35

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Land expropriation refers to the Government's act of taking/expropriating privately owned land, with an aim of benefiting the public out of it.

What is meant by land expropriation without compensation is that, the government takes the land from the owner, without any financial compensation. Based on the Land Expropriation Act 63 of 1975, Section 25, the government has the authority to expropriate the land, provided it be on the interest of the public. 

What needs to be considered

Considering the fact that South Africa lived under the colonial rule, in which the Native Land Act (1913) gave a small portion of land to Blacks, it can be stressed that the land expropriation without compensation is some kind of "revenge" to the white owners, although the government claims it affects all racial groups.

Nonetheless, what needs to be considered are the implications that this motion may come with. If the government concludes on expropriating the land, will it manage on its own? Is the land expropriation without compensation not a call to (i) food insecurity, (ii) decline in investments, and (iii) job loss, just to mention few?

(i) food insecurity

The expropriation of land without compensation may cause an increase to food prices. The higher the price, the lower the demand. This simply means that due to an increase in the price of goods produced (food), consumers may not afford to purchase such goods. In this regard, the poor will suffer the most. This could also lead to an increase in criminal activities, and even deaths due to mulnutrition.

(ii) decline in investments

The question may rise that, if the government takes the land without compensation from the owners, what happens to the investments they made? The answer is, potential investors may decline, and won't the banks suffer? They will. Due to this reason, getting more investors might not be so easy.

(iii) job loss

It is also questionable as to whether the government has thought of the farm workers. For example, if the government takes the land from the farm owner, what happens to the farm worker? He becomes jobless with no means of income. This takes us back to the issue of food insecurity.

In conclusion, the land expropriation without compensation in South Africa may result in the similar situation with that of Zimbabwe in 2000. The former president Robert Mugabe expropriated land from white farmers without compensation. He strongly believed it was best for the Zimbabweans, but unfortunately it only led to hyperinflation, which implicated the country's economy. It led to food insecurity, jobloss, challenged the country's foreign exchange and trade relations. Many Zimbabweans fled the country to neighbouring countries, hoping to find a better living. In this sense, the land expropriation without compensation may impact badly in South Africa.

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