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31 July 2019
“Free State Agriculture (FSA) will continue, together with other interest groups, to oppose any constitutional amendments which could open the door for procedures outside of the remedies already available within the Constitution of South Africa.” This is the message from Francois Wilken, President of FSA, to members of his organisation and the agricultural sector after the final report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture was released.
According to Wilken FSA remains opposed to expropriation without compensation (EWC) and issues surrounding it will also be discussed at the annual FSA congress, which is taking place on 7 and 8 August 2019 in Bloemfontein. “We share the view that the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution is unnecessary and will further increase the associated risks in as far as the protection of property rights are concerned,” says Wilken. The much anticipated panel’s report and an alternative report highlighting the role of the private sector, which was acknowledged by President Cyril Ramaphosa, was released on 28 July 2019.
“Furthermore, we are of the opinion that should government proceed with this intended process, the results will be catastrophic to say the least,” Wilken says. “If there are no farmers to produce the food, who will have food to vote for the politicians that are driving this ill-advised plan? No farmers equals no food!”
The matters of the constitutional imperative for land reform, agricultural sector transformation and how the EWC narrative has monopolised an extremely complex issue are all on the agenda at the upcoming FSA congress.
Prof Danie Brand, Director at the Centre for Human Rights at the University of the Free State, is a constitutional expert and will at the congress talk about the processes of expropriation and how the process for EWC will look if constitutional changes are to be made. Dr Frans Cronje, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Race Relations, will in turn give the facts of what can happen if EWC is allowed in various forms.
FSA also considers the motion in parliament, which was announced on 25 July 2019, as a direct attack on property rights. Wilken believes this shows, despite all the catastrophic consequences, that the governing party still clearly wants to continue with the harmful amendment to the constitution, despite all the disastrous consequences.
According to him, FSA remains committed to the sustainability of agriculture in South Africa. “We want to make it clear that Free State Agriculture will do everything in its power to protect the rights of its members and farmers by opposing any amendment to the constitution.”