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Land custodianship: Nationalisation by other means

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“When the owner of an asset is deprived of his or her ownership it is nationalisation”. This was the reaction of Free State Agriculture (FSA) president, Francois Wilken, after it came to light that ANC has conceded to the EFF’s demands on the issue of land custodianship.

According to Wilken, land custodianship will provide government officials the means to target and intimidate landowners and communities in an already corrupt public sector.

“Land custodianship is nationalisation in that it deprives the legal owner of an asset to buy, manage, and sell that asset without the threat of state intervention. Land custodianship or nationalisation seeks to make the state the final arbiter on the land ownership. If approved, we can expect this principle to be applied to all asset classes,” said Wilken.

Government has maintained that if the so-called land issue is not resolved chaos might erupt. Thus the following are important questions:

  • To date, protests have been waged for jobs, services, and housing – but why not for agriculture land?
  • Why do all land ownership proposals end with a form of state ownership and not individual ownership by black people?
  • Why is the issue of land ownership only urgent just before elections?
  • Will more chaos not erupt if we don’t have drastic economic growth and job creation because talks of land nationalisation and nil compensation continue to drive investors away from SA?

“FSA has warned in the past that the changes to section 25 of the Constitution as well as the Expropriation Bill only seek to extend government ownership of land”. Like mineral rights and water rights, the policy of custodianship opens the door to denying current landowners’ compensation for land expropriated. Custodianship will also deny all land occupiers ownership, or full title to their land.

The EFF is on record saying that it will only accept changes to section 25 of the constitution if it allows for full state ownership of land. This is nationalisation through custodianship. This automatically means expropriation without any compensation.

Custodianship is a failed socialist policy that has proved to spiral countries pursuing this ideology further into poverty.

FSA maintains our position that the most just and equitable system to drive real economic development and job creation, is to obtain land on the open market (and not through a state-controlled patronage system) and at a fair price that reflects the full value of the resources whether for agriculture, housing or other industrial development.