The proposed Expropriation Bill poses a number of serious concerns. Before the land debate came up again in 2015, it was already the case that section 25 of the Constitution allowed for expropriation of land without compensation if it was deemed “just and equitable”.
The land debate resurfaced no doubt as a response by the ANC to its loss of support due to its failure to deliver basic services, improve the lives of South Africans and its absolute failure in its land promises. The government had enough money and owns enough land to have created the kind of reform it promised. It is understandable that disenfranchised South Africans are angry.
On Thursday, DA Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Samantha Graham-Maré MP, stated that “the complexities of this Bill have been underplayed by the ANC and its sponsors in favour of a misdirection that promotes expropriation (with or without compensation) as a mechanism for redress and land restitution. This Bill is not designed for these purposes. It has been designed to vest land in the state and to allow the government to expropriate any property, including intangible property under the guise of public interest. There will be no private ownership of property through this process – merely allocations on a leashold basis of property and land to cadres and the politically connected and greater centralization of power in the government.”
Major issues with proposed Expropriation Bill
Ms Graham-Maré highlights the major issues in the Expropriation Bill in her report. The section which relates to expropriation without compensation lists five circumstances in which no compensation can be paid, of which two are particularly concerning. Of even more concern is that it leaves a door open for other circumstances by stating “including but not limited to…”.
- One circumstance allows for zero compensation for land that is not being used or developed by the owner and is merely used for investment purposes. This could most certainly discourage investors and infringes on a person’s individual rights.
- A second circumstance states that irrespective of whether a person is registered as the owner of a property with the title deeds thereof, if the person has “abandoned the land by failing to exercise control over it”, the land can be expropriated without compensation. Not only does this of course invite potential land-grabs, but it is unclear what constitutes “failing to exercise control” over land. This can only lead to abuse, especially within the current climate in the ANC.
We have already seen how the announcement end of last year by Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Thoko Didiza, that 700 000 hectares of State land will be released for agricultural purposes, has had a detrimental effect. Land grabs and reports of intimidation of private farmers (owning private farmland) by State officials show us the danger we face.
What to do: public participation and petitions
The public has until before 28 February 2021 to make submissions in the public participation process. It is months into the public participation process, and most of the public appear to not know this extremely important and controversial bill is on the table.
One of the reasons for this is that the Parliamentary Communications Services Unit withdrew their offer of funding for advertising on 3 radio stations which would have reached a significant portion of the population. They also stated that they will not be funding anything related to the public participation of the Expropriation Bill process. One can hazard a guess as to why.
The Democratic Alliance’s petition
The DA has created a petition against the Expropriation Bill. The public can sign this before Sunday 28 February.
Submissions to government
Objections are coming in
Free State Agricultural Union hands over 85,000 objections to the DA
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Works & Infrastructure, Madeleine Hicklin MP, issued the following statement today
“This morning at Parliament, the Free State Agricultural Union handed over 85 000 objections to the Democratic Alliance (DA) against the Expropriation Bill.
The DA will submit these objections to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure on behalf of the thousands of South Africans who reject this Bill which seeks to disenfranchise owners of all types of property in South Africa, not just landowners or farmers.
The public participation process for the Expropriation Bill comes to an end on 28 February 2021, and we encourage all South Africans to submit the comments in order to have their say in this disastrous legislation.”