Home Editors Choice Annelize Crosby: ‘A butterfly in land reform boxing ring’

Annelize Crosby: ‘A butterfly in land reform boxing ring’

With 26 years’ experience as a legal policy advisor in the agricultural sector, Annelize Crosby debates on land expropriation without compensation. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi


With 26 years’ experience as a legal policy advisor in the agricultural sector, the name Annelize Crosby has, in many ways, become synonymous with the debate on land expropriation without compensation.

With her no-nonsense approach, she is often the voice of reason amid almost hysterical debate on the proposed Expropriation Bill.

Annelize Crosby, Agri SA’s head of land and legal affairs. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Recently, she also floated like a butterfly in the boxing ring when several organisations, including Agri SA, had its say on the bill set to replace the Expropriation Act of 1975; an act that is inconsistent with the Constitution.

As Agri SA’s head of land and legal affairs, Crosby made it clear that the farmers’ organisation was not against land reform per se, but rather against expropriation.

She confirms to Food For Mzansi that today’s farmers cannot be solely held responsible for the historical events and land injustices which took place during apartheid.

This is a view she also stressed to members of parliament during the recent public hearings conducted by the portfolio committee on public works and infrastructure. 

ALSO READ: Land expropriation: ‘Why would govt ruin agriculture?’

Sinesipho Tom: You struck a chord when you reminded the nation that farmers alone cannot bear the burden of addressing apartheid dispossession. What alternative solutions do you think should be implemented to compensate black landowners whose land was taken without compensation?

Annelize Crosby: Existing laws such as the Restitution of Land Rights Act makes provision for the restoration of land to black claimants, on the basis that the government (with taxpayers’ money on behalf of the society as a whole) pays for the land. Claimants also have the option to choose financial compensation.

Moreover, there is also a redistribution programme where the state can acquire land for redistribution. In addition, there are (white) farmers who have entered into partnerships with black partners and are jointly farming the land.

The blended financing proposals are aimed at providing financing through a grant and loan component through a public-private partnership. This can be utilised amongst other things to acquire land.

When is government allowed to apply the process of land expropriation without compensation?

The point of departure should always be to compensate. This is in line with international best practice. Expropriation by definition requires compensation.

Only in highly exceptional circumstances may the end result of the calculation of just and equitable compensation amount to nil Rand. Agri SA believes that compensation should in most cases be market related.

Many South Africans seem to be confused about the difference between land reform and land expropriation. How would you explain it?

Expropriation is the compulsory acquisition of land that can be done for various purposes, but also, in terms of the Constitution, for land reform.

Why is Agri SA against land expropriation without compensation?

It is contrary to international best practice.  It is not fair towards current landowners.  It will not speed up land reform, and it is likely to have very negative economic consequences.

What would be the consequences for our country, economy and the agricultural sector if land expropriation without compensation was to be successfully implemented?

The econometric modelling exercise done by the GOPA group led by Dr Roelof Botha indicates the likely impact a policy of expropriation without compensation will exert on economic capital formation in South Africa (which is crucial for increasing the stock of productive assets). 

The study confirms the inevitability of a sharp decline in the economic growth rate and a further erosion of taxation revenue growth. The resultant increase in South Africa’s public debt will ultimately require further financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

Does the law support land expropriation without compensation?

Not in our view.

ALSO READ: Expropriation Bill: ‘Free new farmers from being state tenants’

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