Jeremy Cronin: Land expropriation bill makes provision – should remain

Possession of the land is among the leading sources of discontent among voters who feel the primary legal process should vest in the Constitution. Government’s approach to land redistribution remains fixated on the apartheid era – and its Communist-inspired reduction to a few phrases in the Freedom Charter of 1955: “Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land re-divided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger.” And in patronising terms: “The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers.” A proposed alteration to the Expropriation Act (1975), which is ripe for amendment, argues for expropriation without (“necessarily”) payment at market prices is under debate. Defender of the system: Jeremy Cronin. – Peter Wilhelm

land-reform

(ANA) – A clause in the expropriation bill which allows the state to expropriate land without having to compensate owners at market prices should stay as is, deputy public works minister Jeremy Cronin told MPs on Tuesday. Briefing MPs on the ministry’s response to public hearings which were held last month, Cronin said the bill did make provision for landowners, who would lose out during an expropriation, to approach the courts.

“Let us trust in our courts,” Cronin said. “Many of the examples of nasty things that could happen would be found by a reasonable court to be unjust and unequitable.”

He was responding to concerns from banks and farmers that should compensation be paid at below the cost still owed on a bond, the landowner would be liable for the difference. Cronin’s response was that the Constitution specifically provided for market value to not be the only determinant when the state decided on compensation; but that, among others, the current use of the property, the history of the acquisition and use of the property, and the purpose of expropriation be taken into account.

But, he said landowners, unlike before, could now approach the courts if they felt the compensation offered was not fair. If passed, the bill would replace the Expropriation Act of 1975, which is inconsistent with the Constitution.