🔒 Land expropriation debate is deterring investment – IRR’s Terence Corrigan

The debate on land reform is heating up as a cross-party Parliamentary committee begins to look at how the Constitution can be changed to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. This is after the Presidential Panel concluded its report and suggested a watered down version of the original proposal for land expropriation without compensation. The panel stressed that constitutional amendments are not, on their own, the only tools available in order to bring redress to the people who were disposed of land in the past. The Institute for Race Relations has been lobbying against expropriation and the IRR’s CEO Frans Cronjé also put a strategy for the agricultural sector on the table on how they could counter the risks of land expropriation. In an interview with BizNews Radio, Terence Corrigan warned that once the Constitution is changed to allow for expropriation of land, other sectors could be targeted. – Linda van Tilburg

Terrence Corrigan said the IRR is not fixated on the land issue, the institute is against the principle of expropriation. He said it is “often phrased in agricultural metaphysics or as a land issue, but once the floodgates are opened, there is a sort of a genie out of the bottle principle and we do not believe it will be confined to land for farming.” The institute has seen similar proposals for prescribed assets.

He referred to a recent statement by the Head of the Health Professionals who said that medical aid reserves should be nationalised. Corrigan said the impact across the whole investment environment has been quite damaging. South Africa has already taken enormous damage just from the debate, once it enters the realms of actual seizures, “I think we can kiss any prospects of new dawns or old dawns goodbye.”

Land expropriation, he said, has become a totem, like the idol carried by the head of the conquering army. The institute has a vast volume of research including of people who are not sympathetic to the idea of property rights about what is wrong with land reform in South Africa. “I can personally tell you stories of people who have tried to donate land, farmers who are exiting the industry as they have no-one to pass it on to.” Land is not the key thing for successful agrarian reform. “Skills are needed, capital and a functional agricultural extension services, none of which South Africa has and none of which will be provided.”

Corrigan said the problem of a political totem such as land expropriation is that it has very real economic costs. There has been a fall-off in agricultural investment and in the IRR’s discussion with local and overseas investors; they have indicated that until land expropriation is off the table, they are not sinking their money into the South African economy.