IRR submits 53 000 objections to expropriation without compensation

As the deadline for submissions to the Constitutional Review Committee loomed on Friday morning, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) showed up at Parliament with a few boxes containing submissions against expropriation without compensation.

"We been very seriously opposed to this," said IRR programme coordinator Terence Corrigan, as he and colleagues dealt with the 10 or so boxes they will hand in as a symbolic gesture, on the pavement outside Parliament's visitor's entrance.

They also had a bag of T-shirts with the IRR's logo and the slogan "Live Free".

The boxes contain a sample of the submissions that the IRR received from more than 53 000 people "across South Africa's population" to voice their opposition to expropriation without compensation.

"But they are also saying they're in favour of real redistributive measures that make sense and that uplift our poor and deal with the real problems," said Corrigan.

'We can do this in an amicable fashion'

Each submission will be submitted electronically, but they are handing in hard copies to show how seriously they are taking the process, which was set in motion after the National Assembly adopted a motion to investigate amending the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.

Corrigan said the IRR voiced its opposition because it cared about South Africa's future and the property rights of black and white South Africans.

He said expropriation without compensation was not the answer to addressing land reform, but that resources should be better used.

"Money has very seldom been SA's problem. And, as we [have] written, actually setting up new commercial farmers is really not that expensive," he said.

"It will take between R15m and R20m per person to give a hundred-acre farm debt free, free and clear, with equipment, with livestock, basically putting these people in a better position than most existing commercial farmers.

"Where is this money going to come from? Well, just look at the bailouts for SAA."

He said the government could simply reassign money which was currently used in ways that wasn't bringing the country much benefit.

"We can do this. We can do this in an amicable fashion," he said.

He said plenty of land came onto the market and there was no evidence that compensation had ever been a problem.

"As I say, you don't even have to take our word for it."

'What people want is jobs, housing'

He referred to former president Kgalema Mothlanthe's high-level panel, which found several problems in the implementation of land reform, including poor project design, lack of political will, administrative chaos, and a lack of support.

He said the issue required cool heads.

"I think a lot of it has been deliberately spun in a manner that is calculated to inflame tensions that appeal to emotions, [rather than] dealing rationally with the problems," he said.

"We are very concerned that this is elevating a relatively minor issue into the centre of the debate, with the potential to simply compound the problem going forward."

ALSO READ: 'Just be frank' with investors about land, says Ramaphosa's economic adviser

He said the IRR had done extensive polling, and land for farming purposes had never come up as a strong issue.

"What people want is jobs, housing," he said.

Also on Friday, Cope said it had lodged its submission opposing expropriation without compensation, along with some 220 000 submissions by South Africans it had obtained with Dear South Africa – an online platform helping citizens participate in government.

Of these 220 000 submissions, 56% were against expropriation without compensation.

On Thursday, the Freedom Front Plus lodged 101 060 submissions opposed to amending the Constitution, while lobby group AfriForum submitted a petition containing 250 000 signatures along with its submission earlier in the week after they complained about the parliamentary process earlier.

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