Testing the constitution on expropriation

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Testing the constitution on expropriation


The constitution has not failed land reform. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has. Neither has the willing seller principle failed, incompetent, corrupt officials blame it to cover their role in the plundering of the system for the benefit of well connected individuals.

Every farmer, land owner and disappointed beneficiary or aspirant beneficiary of land reform, who had been delivered to these land officials, know this. The High Level Panel of previous president Kgalema Mothlante wrote this in its report, and
no one knows why their findings are being ignored by the ANC in its position on Expropriation without Compensation.

The ANC government could not meet any of its land reform targets since 1996, simply because it never budgeted to buy the land it identified for transfers. Underspending of budgets, legal battles lost with costs, and suspicious transactions such as Mala-Mala, where a billion rand had been spent on a shady deal to benefit everyone involved but the intended land claims beneficiaries, are only a few stones in the shoes of land reform which are covered up by blaming the constitution.

The ANC now wants to “test “ the constitution by expropriating 139 farms for different reasons and in different circumstances, to see how close it will allow the state to expropriate without compensation. It expects landowners and their representatives to take the matter to the courts, which will apply the “just and equatable” principle to determine compensation.

Agri Limpopo fears that the ANC is holding a gun to the heads of the judges, who know that the party will use their judgements as an excuse to change the constitution when the outcomes don’t go their way. The ANC is not clear on whether they expect all, or most, or only some judgements to limit the state’s powers to act beyond what is just and equatable before they use it as an excuse
to change the constitution.

The real judges in these 139 expropriation cases will however not be the judges in the courts, but investors both locally and internationally, and South Africa will read their judgements in the growth statistics and gains or losses in the rural jobs
markets. The ANC is yet to regain the moral high ground for embarking on this trajectory of expropriation without compensation, given its sad recent history of state capture, failing basic services and parastatals, and massive job losses under its watch.

Agri Limpopo is clear on this issue: government needs to be honest with itself and all stakeholders about land reform and what they really mean by it, ensure that the state does have the capacity to seen their plan through, do proper budgeting and see to it that budgets are spent on what it is intended for, stop the deviding rethoric based on false assumptions of land theft and populistic racial jargon.

Agri Limpopo has a long standing record for promoting the implementation of the amended model for land reform in chapter 6 of the NDP. Time wasted on searching somewhere else for solutions to failed land reform, could have been better spent if the High Level Report and the NDP were searched for the answers and time was spend to build onto much work already done to fine tune the model of chapter 6.

Dr Theo de Jager – Chair of Agri Limpopo’s Agri Development committee 082 332 2110
Willem van Jaarsveld CEO Agri Limpopo 082 451 7913