While AFASA supports the proposed amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation, Agri SA and Free State Agriculture have rejected it, maintaining that it threatens Mzansi’s economic status.
Agri SA and FSA’s objections were made during the ad hoc committee’s virtual public hearing this week.
FSA warned that the expropriation bill diminishes and threatens property rights. Agri SA argued that today’s farmers cannot be solely held responsible for the historical events and land injustices which took place during apartheid.
Annelize Crosby, Agri SA’s head of land and legal affairs, said that the farmers’ organisation is not against land reform per se, but rather against expropriation.
“We are very much supportive of a sustainable and orderly process of land reform. Orderly land reform happens in the form of legislation where there are processes that are fair to everybody. Sustainable (land reform) means that there is not just short term vision but it must be process that takes you into the future.
“But we are against expropriation without compensation we want to be very very clear on that,” she highlighted.
Crosby explained that Agri SA also support the principle that the public burden must be equally shared by society. “You cannot put that cost on individuals or small groups such as the current commercial farmers,” she said.
“We therefore say that today’s farmers cannot be solely held responsible for the historical events and distributions which took place in our country. It must be an effort by society as a whole to address that.”
Alternatives for expropriation
In her list of alternatives for expropriation she said that past iniquities must be dealt with through positive, future-focused and solution-driven conversations.
“As such we formulated a holistic Agri SA plan for land reform and rural development in 2014. We supported a land audit by Agri Development Solutions and Landbouweekblad in 2017.
“Agri SA also co-hosted a Land Summit sharing sucess in land reform and rural development in 2018. We are currently part of a business engagment with government on blended financing schemes which aims to make finacing more affordable for black people who want to enter the sector,” she said.
‘Ruining agricultural sector’
Meanwhile Dr Roelof Botha, economic advisor to the Optimum Investment Group, unpacked the findings of an independent report by Agri SA on the dire economic implications of expropriation without compensation.
Botha shared that agriculture remains the single largest source of employment in the country, contributing to our GDP, food security and nutrition while being a viable source of foreign exchange earnings.
He said it is “mind boggling” that government would want to risk ruining a sector that is doing so well by implementing expropriation without compensation.
“Agri SA executed a study to quantify the macro economic impact of land expropriation without compensation in South Africa based on a calculation of declines in capital formation GDP ratios that have occurred in countries that have implemented expropriation without compensation,” he said.
Botha made specific reference to Zimbabwe where an estimated four million citizens have already migrated to South Africa.
“What is wrong with Zimbabwe?” he asked, “I’ll tell you what is wrong with Zimbabwe. It is expropriation without compensation. Now government is trying to correct that mistake by providing compensation for those farmers but some of those farmers are no longer with us. Once again, why do you want to repeat a mistake.”
Private property rights
Meanwhile Dr Jack Armour, operations manager of FSA, rejected the bill in its current form as well as any amendment to section 25 of the Constitution or any similar bills of which may have a negative impact on any form of private property rights.
“Free State Agriculture will oppose any legislation that may have a negative impact on any form of property right or expropriation without compensation of any form of private property.
“The organisation explained that property rights must be expanded to be accessible for all South Africans. The expropriation bill diminishes and threatens property rights,” he said.
FSA proposed that government should support future-oriented economically sustainable agricultural development and fulfil its responsibility with regards to infrastructure, extension services and other agricultural support services in cooperation with the private sector.
The organisation warned that should MP’s ignore South Africans’ objections and fail to stop the bill there would be dire repercussions for the country.
FSA has therefore launched a campaign to help stop the expropriation bill through an online petition. The campaign generated more than 85 000 individual objections against the expropriation bill.