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

Up-and-coming farmers should not be kept as mere 'tenant farmers' on state-owned land that they should rightfully own, believes Free State Agriculture

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Government’s land policy, as tool to increase individual land ownership in South Africa, can’t be taken seriously. This is the view of Free State Agriculture (FSA) after the recent publication of the new Expropriation Bill.

FSA president Francois Wilken believes the bill threatens all South Africans’ rights to own property. Specifically, the property rights of poor and marginalised communities will be undermined.

Free State Agriculture President Francois Wilken. Photo: Conrad Bornman
Free State Agriculture president Francois Wilken. Photo: Conrad Bornman

“It is important to understand that the stated aims of the new Expropriation Bill are to allow the state to target and expropriate any property without compensation,” says Wilken.

“In other words, through this legislation government does not seek to expand property rights, it seeks to limit it.

“History has shown us that when governments infringe upon property rights, it is the poor and marginalised that pay the ultimate price.”

ALSO READ: ‘Expropriation bill violates your property rights too’

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Wilken believes that government does not need the Expropriation Bill in its current format to expand the base of private land ownership in South Africa.

“If broad land ownership is a priority to government, it should start a process of transferring the ownership of the 5 300 state-owned farms to the individual previously disadvantaged individual beneficiaries.”

According to Wilken it is rather problematic that legitimate previously disadvantaged individuals and upcoming farmers are kept as mere “tenant farmers” on state-owned land that they should rightfully own.

“The Expropriation Bill will not address these instances – it will merely destroy the rights of the rightful landowners and the livelihoods of farmworkers and rural communities in general,” he says.

Meanwhile Free State Agriculture is preparing a report to serve as the organisation’s response to governments call for comments on the Expropriation Bill. FSA remains vehemently opposed to certain clauses in the Expropriation Bill.

Points of contention

FSA’s specific points of contention are that the bill:

  • makes it possible to expropriate property without compensation;
  • includes any property (not only land); and
  • allows for a too vague and broad definition of “public interest” to be used as reason for expropriation.

Opportunity for written public input on the Expropriation Bill closes on Wednesday, 10 February 2021. FSA urges all concerned citizens to make their voices heard against the bill via an online portal.

The farmers’ organisation believes property rights should be expanded to all South Africans. The Expropriation Bill will limit, if not destroy, this right that’s central to job creation and economic growth, it says.

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