ANC commits to orderly land reform

The ANC pledged to tackle land reform responsibly as investor concerns mount over plans to change the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.

“We will not and will never subscribe to land grabbing in South Africa, we are orderly and we are organised in what we do,” Fikile Mbalula, the ANC’s head of elections and a member of the party’s decision-making National Executive Committee, said at a meeting with agricultural lobby group Agri SA in Pretoria on Friday.

“We’re after a constructive resolution on expropriation of land, which now will include non-compensation.”

The move to amend the Constitution has added to wider emerging-market jitters in knocking the rand and South African bonds. Critics of the plan and investors have raised concerns that the move could lead to an erosion of property rights and ultimately, Zimbabwe-style farm seizures.

The ANC decided at a conference in December that more needs to be done to correct racially skewed land ownership patterns dating back to colonial and apartheid rule. While there’s widespread consensus that land reform needs to be accelerated, there are widely divergent views as to how it should be done.

Provide certainty

Ronald Lamola, who also sits on the ANC’s national executive, said it was accepted that the government had failed to effectively address land restitution and that the current situation had created uncertainty for citizens and financial markets – something the ruling party is seeking to address.

“There must be a mixture of ownership,” he said. “We have to be able to give some certainty with regards to property rights.”

It’s unclear how long it would take Parliament to process the constitutional amendments, which would be coupled with an Expropriation Bill spelling out the circumstances under which land can be taken, according to Lamola.

An earlier draft of the bill was withdrawn from Parliament on August 28, pending the conclusion of the constitutional review.

Government data show more than two-thirds of farmland is owned by whites, who constitute 7.8% of the country’s 57.7 million people.

The Constitution currently permits land expropriation in the public interest. A parliamentary committee is considering possible amendments that will make it easier for the state to take land without paying for it.

Dire consequences

Officials from lobby group Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), the Banking Association of South Africa and Nedbank Group, the country’s biggest provider of commercial property finance, appeared before the panel in Cape Town on Friday, and warned that tampering with the Constitution could have dire economic consequences.

Land redistribution has been frustrated by insufficient coordination within the government, an incoherent legal framework, maladministration and a lack of training and capacity, said Tanya Cohen, BUSA’s chief executive officer.

“That’s not a failure of the Constitution,” she said. “We don’t believe constitutional amendments are necessary for meaningful land reform.”

Enoch Godongwana, the ANC’s head of economic transformation, said the party wouldn’t endanger the banks or the economy.

“We’re quite aware that as we embark on this journey we should not create systemic risk,” he said in Pretoria.

Dan Kriek, Agri SA’s president, said the discussions with the ruling party were productive, and the group was optimistic about the agricultural industry’s future.

“I feel that the ANC heard our concerns and will take them into consideration for the path ahead,” he said in an emailed statement.

* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
ZAR/USD
15.33
(-0.60)
ZAR/GBP
20.45
(+0.00)
ZAR/EUR
18.47
(-0.39)
ZAR/AUD
11.30
(-0.52)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(-0.28)
Gold
1824.50
(+0.80)
Silver
24.22
(+1.78)
Platinum
1000.00
(+0.70)
Brent Crude
47.23
(-0.96)
Palladium
2412.00
(+1.19)
All Share
57787.88
(+0.48)
Top 40
53041.15
(+0.53)
Financial 15
11300.99
(+0.56)
Industrial 25
79115.14
(+0.06)
Resource 10
54163.07
(+1.12)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, and I've gotten it.
21% - 367 votes
No, I did not.
51% - 890 votes
My landlord refused
28% - 478 votes
Vote