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Zahid Jadwat
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Land expropriation without compensation: Policy for economic prosperity or destruction?

04 July 2018, 11:12

As the first of a series of public hearings to be held nationally have finally kicked off, farmers are gripped by a feeling of insecurity and fear that the worst could happen as a result of land expropriation without compensation.

More than 700 000 written submissions forms were made by the public until the 15th June 2018

At the same time, Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum has garnered approximately 300 000 signatures opposed to the idea.

The reason for land expropriation is to address apartheid distribution of land and to 'return it back to the original owners' as far leftist groups would say.

Leading the opening debate on land expropriation in Parliament back in February this year, Julius Malema said: "We all know that the Dutch gangsters arrived here and took our land by force. The struggle has since been about the return of the land into the hands of rightful owners."

Correct. We all agree with the fact that colonialists took land during the Scramble for Africa. But, does two wrongs make  a right? 

This is actually a last resort because of  failures by the ANC government over the past 24 years to address the issue of unequal land distribution pre-1994 with other options. 

It quite normally - given its credentials of failure  - neglected beneficiaries of previous land reform programmes. Statistics indicate that up to 80% of the land that was reformed is now unproductive - evident in agricultural output declines.

This is definitely because they are taking land from skilled farmers - who have mastered the fine art of farming over decades and even centuries - to people who know little to nothing about the industry without even offering training to these new land owners. This is one of the biggest red flags that pro-expropriation activists should heed before jumping to a decision. 

It is disastrous to allow ill-equipped people (regardless of race) to simply walk into a skill-demanding industry and expect them to successfully operate the system.

Farming isn't a game for fun and neither is it a joke. The country's economy as well as food security are propped heavily against the crucial industry. It requires skill and effort. We can't even get into the list of the expensive equipment essential. 

We would be the dumbest country to chase our skilled citizens off our soil. Obviously there are countries like Australia looking to develop their agricultural industry and they're definitely going to pounce on the first opportunity to use our skilled farmers. Definitely. They've already given hints to their intentions.

As I see it, irrational policies are destroying South Africa's achievements. We risk toppling our reputed agricultural sector through biased policies like these.

The window of hope is fast closing on our farmers, and when we get groups like AfriForum angrily trying to save their members, it somehow becomes racist.

As much as government would like to sugar coat it, they will be conducting land grabs and confiscations - whether or not they like us to refer to the term. A lion is a lion. You can not call it a rabbit simply to satisfy people - as much as you'd like to.

I call upon government to take into consideration all the effects of their proposed land grabs. They must look at other sustainable, indestructible and rational as well as economically-safe options. 

Large-scale subsistent farming, for example. Numerous studies have suggested great benefits to the economy. Perhaps they should expropriate neglected buildings for rooftop gardens. How about purchasing a plot of land in each community for locals to farm on?

We've got the perfect example of deliberate ruin on the part of the rulers just north-east of us... glance over at Zimbabwe.

Remember the former breadbasket of the Southern African region - Zimbabwe? Well, now what do you see there? Full-swing agricultural production or land reform failure? 

It is important for us, as citizens objecting to the potential destruction of our future, to attend public hearings currently underway.

By Muhammed Zahid Jadwat Thu, 28 June 2018

Follow Zahid Jadwat on Twitter: @zahidjadwat

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