‘We understand the need for expropriation and land reform – but it needs to be done properly’ – DA MP

DA MP Samantha Graham joined the BizNews Power Hour to discuss expropriation without compensation. She told editor at large Jackie Cameron that the Expropriation Bill is being sold ‘as a panacea to deal with the ills of land reform – which is not the case’. Graham also added that ‘they are sneaking in clauses around expropriation without compensation that are really going to impinge on private property rights’. Also weighing in on the subject is Dawn Ridler, who is concerned about foreign direct investment. ‘A lot of our trade deals have embedded property rights and if we start eroding those rights some of those trade deals could go away.’ – Jarryd Neves

 DA MP Samantha Graham on the Expropriation Bill:

Just to clarify, a lot of our opposition are saying that we are anti-expropriation, we’re opposing the Expropriation Bill in its entirety and we are supporting apartheid legislation – which is fundamentally untrue. We understand the need for expropriation and we furthermore support the need for land reform. But these have got to be done properly. In both cases, the expropriation bill is being sold as the panacea to deal with the ills of land reform, which is not the case.

They are sneaking in clauses around expropriation without compensation, that are really going to impinge on private property rights. We’ve run a petition, just so that people can make their voices heard. We’ve already had over 100,000 signatures on a petition and we have submitted – from the DA side – our own submission to the portfolio committee. Going into the next phase, the DA will obviously oppose the causes that we have an issue with – particularly around specific clauses in Section 12.3, which is around the expropriation without compensation. We need more clarity on the property and definition thereof and certain other clauses that we find problematic. 

 DA MP Samantha Graham on how the legislation will affect assets and property:

The problem we have around the act is that property is defined – as per Section 25 of the Constitution – as property, but not just land. In another section of the definitions, under courts, they refer to intangible property. But there’s no other reference made to intangible property throughout the rest of the bill.

In addition, there are no clauses that deal with expropriation of things like intangible property and how this will be addressed. Although it encompasses expropriation of property, the expropriation without compensation section obviously deals specifically with land. The rest of the bill covers property in its entirety and under all definitions.

That makes it problematic for us because there’s no reference to how that will be done, how compensation will be sought etc. The land expropriation without compensation does have a little bit of a precursor to it where it says, ‘but not limited to’. That also, as far as we’re concerned, opens the door to other means of expropriation and particularly perhaps other forms of property.

Dawn Ridler on the economic impact:

My biggest concern is around foreign direct investment. A lot of our trade deals have actually got embedded property rights. If we start eroding those property rights, some of those trade deals could go away. From an economic point of view, that is my biggest concern. That we are going to chase off direct foreign investment – which we desperately need from that perspective.

From an individual’s point of view – as far as living in the suburbs and that kind of thing – I think we are way down the line in terms of our properties being expropriated. But it has struck a chord and it struck a fear into many South Africans. It comes up all the time in conversations with my clients. I’ve seen it in my client base already. This silent immigration already starting to happen in anticipation of this happening.

I think one of the things that worries me the most that – if this was taken to its maximum conclusion – it would result in the really the failure of the banking system. You’ve got all these bonds out there. If you’re going to expropriate somebody’s property, their house on it and everything else, do you think they’re going to continue to pay the bond on their property? I don’t think so.

DA MP Samantha Graham on why the ANC would want to push this legislation through:

There are two processes underway. The one is the amendment to Section 25 and then of the Constitution and then the Expropriation Bill. We’re not opposed to the passing of an Expropriation Bill. It’s a requirement. We need it. We need a law of general application that gives effect to The Constitution to allow for government to expropriate land, for public purposes. Part of the issue we have here is public interest – which, kind of, is very vague. That will allow government to apply expropriation in anything that it deems to be public interest.

It could be for land reform purposes – and that’s fine. Again, we support land reform. However, there’s nothing to clarify what happens post the expropriation. If every property is expropriated for land reform purposes, it can then be given – as they’re busy doing with properties in the Western Cape at the moment – to friends and connected people. Is that then in the public interest? They keep saying we’re scaremongering. At the end of the day, we need to legislate with the worst possible government in mind, not with a government that is going to be kind, generous, sweet and think of everybody’s individual property rights.

Currently, we’re in an election year. The ANC has been pushed into a corner by the EFF that have tried to own this whole nationalisation of land and expropriation without compensation. The ANC is now in a position where they’re going to start losing support from more of their extreme supporters, if they don’t address the land issue. This seems to be the easiest way of addressing the land issue, without actually having to follow proper land reform processes.

This is not a land reform policy, but it’s being sold as such to everybody – because everybody loves the idea of expropriation without compensation and making people feel that they’re being repaid for the property that was stolen. When in actual fact, this is actually just a primary source of land acquisition for the state to do what the state is required to do in delivering services. It’s being very badly packaged under a political methodology to to secure votes in the upcoming election.

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