As events in eastern Europe has highlighted the importance of countries’ self-sustainable food security, it might be time to rethink the Expropriation Bill which the South African government is working on. This, according to Free State Agriculture, who believes the bill could make South Africans dependent on foreign food producers.
The president of Free State Agriculture, Francois Wilken, says the bill will not only undermine land rights in the country, but property rights as a whole.
He believes that the time for local ideological games is over; that the harsh reality is that Mzansi will have to provide its own citizens with food in a drastically increasing, globally unstable environment.
“The Expropriation Bill is currently the focus of the larger land debate, while food security is becoming a growing crisis,” Wilken says, while adding that the organisation has submitted close to 100 000 citizens’ opposition to the proposed law during the public participation process.
The organisation’s view is further that the bill falls outside the framework of the Constitution. “We are therefore geared to support efforts to defend the rights of our members and supporters with the best legal representatives.”
With the growing uncertainty about global food security, Wilken says that the land debate should focus on getting state land into the hands of the best farmers and forming partnerships with other businesses in the agricultural value chain as soon as possible.
The sections of the Expropriation Bill which concern FSA most, are:
- The legal cost onus and burden on the landowner to enforce their property rights.
- The definitions of property and public interest, which are too broad.
- The opportunity and expectation which the zero-compensation clauses create.
- The power that civil servants will receive to enforce this law.
FSA says that it took note of the parliamentary meetings to finalise the Expropriation Bill. The organisation, however, still remains of the opinion that a law which is in line with the Constitution of South Africa is essential and that Section 25 of the Constitution is sufficient to determine fair and equitable compensation.
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