A review of AfriBusiness’ summit on expropriation without compensation

AfriBusiness convened a summit on Tuesday, 6 March 2018 of leading NGOs and political parties to consider the implications of the resolution that was adopted in the National Assembly on 27 February 2018 to pursue – as a matter of policy – expropriation without compensation (EWC).

During their discussions all the participants expressed deep concern over the implications of EWC for:

  • The future viability of commercial agriculture;
  • The future of food production;
  • The future of investment and economic growth;
  • The banks and financial institutions to which farmers owe in total R160 billion; and
  • The future of race relations following expropriation of farms or any other property without compensation based on race.

Some of the views that were expressed include:

  • The implementation of EWC would be a potentially fatal blow to the great accord that South Africans had reached between 1990 and 1996.
  • The National Assembly had evidently adopted the resolution based on wildly inaccurate information on land and property ownership and the actual demand for agricultural land in the black community.
  • EWC posed a threat to the property rights of all South Africans – black and white – and particularly to the property rights of the 7,5 million black South Africans who owned their properties bond-free. It was pointed out that the value of these homes were at least four times the total value of all the agricultural land in South Africa.
  • Government’s land reform policies would not result in increased black ownership of land, but in a situation where the State would be the custodian of all the land in the country.
  • Secure property rights were the foundation for all successful economies and were also essential for genuine democracies, while the destruction of property rights had led to the catastrophic implosion of economies and societies, as had recently been witnessed in Zimbabwe and Venezuela.
  • There was no need to amend Section 25 of the Constitution, because it already made ample provision for fair and effective land reform.
  • The decision to opt for EWC revealed a degree of racial animus, particularly when viewed within the context of the racially aggressive tone of the debate that had preceded the adoption of the resolution in the National Assembly.

Participants in the summit expressed their support for proper land restitution and a genuine and workable approach to land reform. They took note that the resolution had called for EWC that would not destabilise agriculture, endanger food security or undermine economic growth. However, they regarded these provisions as contradictions in terms, since agriculture, food security and economic growth axiomatically require respect for property rights.

The participants expressed the intent to –

  • Unambiguously oppose the imposition of EWC;
  • Continue to monitor the situation;
  • Make representations to the Constitutional Review Committee to which EWC has been referred; and
  • Accept President Ramaphosa’s invitation to discuss their deep concerns relating to EWC at an appropriate time.