A bill allowing the South African government to seize private land without compensation has been withdrawn by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works pending further study, according to the ruling African National Congress.
In 2015, the ANC proposed a constitutional amendment allowing the government to seize and redistribute land without any compensation to its owners. The draft, which has not been adopted so far, evoked widespread international outrage and multiple media reports of alleged violence against white South African farmers, including murders.
The committee’s chairperson, Humphrey Mmemezi, said the bill was referred to parliament on procedural grounds, but they couldn’t duplicate a separate parliamentary process.
WITHDRAWAL OF EXPROPRIATION BILL FOR FURTHER RECONSIDERATION pic.twitter.com/liFnvJlioG
— ANC Parliament (@ANCParliament) August 28, 2018
TO FURTHER CLARIFY: The Expropriation Bill (from the Department of Public Works) is withdrawn for re-introduction upon the conclusion of the Constitutional Review process currently underway to make provision to expropriate land without compensation.
— ANC Parliament (@ANCParliament) August 28, 2018
Sorry, you can no longer speak in English, and must return to speaking Zulu, as you have appropriated the culture of white people.
Yep, that makes as much sense as you #Communist scum stealing land. NONE AT ALL!
— overpasses4America (@o4america) August 28, 2018
Senior citizens are easy targets and regular victims of the Farm attacks that are happening in South Africa….
I say to the silent media of this world "what if this was happening to your Granny…how silent would you be then…?" pic.twitter.com/uUoU2NW0lz
— Mariette (@treedassie) August 26, 2018
“If we, as Parliament, resolve to hear the people of South Africa on that important clause, it then goes without question that we must send the bill back to Parliament,” he said, adding the committee had no choice but to withdraw it.
However, the ANC reiterated its commitment to pursue the country’s controversial land reform program. The ruling party wants to redistribute the land confiscated from white farmers to the black citizens of the country. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model. Under the plan, the government buys land from white landowners and redistributes it among black citizens of the country. However, the land reform program has not brought the results the ANC wanted.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this month that his government is enforcing a change in the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation. According to the ANC, the white minority in the country still own most of the land more than two decades after the end of apartheid.
Much of the farmland in South Africa is owned by the country’s white minority, also known as Afrikaners, descendants of Dutch and English settlers. The former British colony instituted a policy of strict racial segregation, known as apartheid, in 1948. It was formally abolished in 1994.
The ANC government denies there is a widespread or systematic campaign to kill or expel white farmers, but maintains that major redistribution is needed to correct the legacy of colonialism. A number of Afrikaners have already emigrated, with as many as 15,000 Boers recently expressing interest in settling in southern Russia.
There has been a reported rise in violent attacks against farmers in South Africa. There were 74 farm murders and 638 attacks, primarily against white farmers, in 2016-17, according to data by minority rights group AfriForum.
The South African officials reportedly seized two farms last week from owners who refused to accept the government-set compensation.
Local newspaper City Press reports two game farms in the northern province of Limpopo are the first to be targeted for unilateral seizure after negotiations with the owners to purchase the properties stalled.
While the Communists in the government claims it intends to pay, owners Akkerland Boerdery wanted 200 million rand ($18.7 million) for the land — they’re being offered just 20 million rand ($1.87 million).
“Notice is hereby given that a terrain inspection will be held on the farms on April 5, 2018 at 10am in order to conduct an audit of the assets and a handover of the farm’s keys to the state,” a letter sent to the owners earlier this year said.
Akkerland Boerdery obtained an urgent injunction to prevent eviction until a court had ruled on the issue, but the Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs is opposing the application.
“What makes the Akkerland case unique is that they apparently were not given the opportunity to first dispute the claim in court, as the law requires,” AgriSA union spokeswoman Annelize Crosby told the paper.
These farms are on the goverment's #farmlist that @afriforum exposed. And yet government still denies that the list exists… but it is now clear that government is lying to the public. https://t.co/U40G0U1GIv
— Kallie Kriel (@kalliekriel) August 19, 2018
It comes as the Communists of the South African government push ahead with plans to amend the country’s constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
The seizures are intended to test the ability of the government to take land under existing laws, which the ruling African National Congress has previously stated is allowable if “in the public interest”.
Earlier this month, City Press reported the government had drawn up a list of 139 farms it planned to seize “to test out” section 25 of the constitution.
The newspaper said employees at the department had been ordered to press ahead with the process at the Land Claims Court.
If the seizures go ahead, it would be the first time the state refuses to pay market value for land. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing seller, willing buyer” process to redistribute white-owned farms to blacks.
A 2017 government audit found white people owned 72 per cent of private farmland in South Africa. According to the 2011 census, there are about 4.6 million white people in South Africa, accounting for 8.9 per cent of the population.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa would not reveal details of the farms targeted and attempted to play down investor fears, saying the proposed seizures were “tied to addressing the injustices of the past”.
“Over time I think the markets as well as investors will appreciate that what we are doing is creating policy certainty and creating the conditions for future investment,” he told City Press.
Afriforum, a civil-rights group representing the white Afrikaner minority, subsequently released what it claimed to be a leaked list of 190 farms “being circulated in the department”, inviting farmers to check if they were on it and asking them to get in touch “so that we can prepare for a joint legal strategy”.
The Communists in the government hit back, with department spokeswoman Linda Page saying the list was a fake. “We don’t know where they got it from,” she said. “There is no truth to this document.”
On Sunday, Mr Roets tweeted that the two farms — Salaita and Lukin — were the first two names on Afriforum’s list.
“So the debate about the authenticity of the list is settled then?” he said. “We hope that the gravity of the state’s plans for expropriation is understood and that people will see through the dishonesty of the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development.
“We hope that the attempts to discredit the legitimacy of the list has now been proven to be malicious for good. We shouldn’t be misled by those who sing Kumbaya while the state is planning to expropriate property.”
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 28th, 2018