Free State Agriculture (FSA) says it is concerned about the latest draft Expropriation Bill which regulates how government can acquire land owned by private citizens for public purposes. It violates property rights as it targets all assets of all citizens.
Francois Wilken, president of the FSA, warns if the bill is not halted his organisation will rally nationwide support against it.
“This (proposed) law must be stopped and therefore public opposition in this process is extremely important. Citizens must realise that if one person’s property rights can be targeted by the state, everyone’s property rights are in jeopardy.”
According to Wilken expropriation without compensation is “a make-or-break thing not only for farmers, but also for the country and all her people.”
The proposed act carries many dangers, he says. “Unfortunately, in South Africa we do not have the certainty that government is committed to entrenching fundamental economic building blocks. In general discourse, it is incorrectly assumed that only agricultural land is the target of expropriation without compensation. However, this is not just an attack on farmers and landowners, but an attack on every individual’s property rights.”
Intention of the expropriation bill
Dr Jack Armour, operations manager of FSA, believes the intention of the bill is to provide for the expropriation of property for public purpose with null compensation.
“Our main concerns are ‘public purpose’ and ‘public interest’. What exactly is that and then, also, expropriation is poorly defined. Expropriation with null compensation that is our biggest issue.
“One cannot have a growing economy with null compensation. Without the building blocks of a growing economy investments cannot be made, jobs cannot be created, and the country cannot grow.”
Armour indicated that the FSA has no problem addressing past discriminatory law practices. “The restitution act has already been placed to restitute land that was unlawfully taken. What further actions and what further acts are being put in place to redistribute land and to create this equitable access to South Africa’s natural resources in the publics best interest?”
He believes the new bill is not clearly intended to update previous expropriation law. “This is made clear by the intention of the bill. The new law seeks to expand rights of government to expropriate… and this victimises the expropriation process.”
Public interest does not refer to the building of roads , bridges and infrastructure, says Armour. Instead he believes public interest is narrowly defined as a political narrative of land reform.