Land ownership: Question Government’s sincerity

Grondbesit: Bevraagteken regering se opregtheid

Government’s land policy, as tool to increase individual land ownership in South Africa, cannot be taken seriously. This is the view of Free State Agriculture after the recent publication on the Expropriation Bill. According to FSA President, Francois Wilken, the new Expropriation Bill threatens all South Africans rights to own property.

Specifically, the property rights of poor and marginalised communities will be undermined.

It is important to understand that the stated aims of the new Expropriation Bill are to allow the state to target and expropriate any property without compensation. In other words, through this legislation government does not seek to expand property rights, it seeks to limit it. History has shown us that when governments infringe upon property rights it is the poor and marginalised that pay the ultimate price.

Government does not need the Expropriation Bill in it’s current format to expand the base of private land ownership in South Africa. If broad land ownership is a priority to government, it should start a process of transferring the ownership of the 5300 state owned farms to the individual PDI (previously disadvantaged individual) beneficiaries.

It is problematic that legitimate PDI’s and upcoming farmers are kept as mere “tenant farmers” on state owned land that they should rightfully own. The Expropriation Bill will not address these instances – it will merely destroy the rights of the rightful landowners and the livelihoods of farmworkers and rural communities in general.

FSA is preparing a full report to serve as the organisation’s response to governments call for comments on the Expropriation Bill.  FSA remains vehemently opposed to certain clauses in the Expropriation Bill. The specific principled points of contention are that the bill:

  1. Makes it possible to expropriate property without compensation,
  2. Includes any property (not only land) and
  3. Allows for a too vague and broad definition of “public interest” to be used as reason for expropriation.

Opportunity for written public input on the Expropriation Bill closes on 10 Feb 2021. FSA urges all concerned citizens to make their voices heard against the Bill.  In order the assist, FSA has provided a portal on its website where the public can oppose the critical sections of the legislation (https://vrystaatlandbou.co.za/stop-expropriation/).

Free State Agriculture believes that property rights should be expanded to all South Africans. The Expropriation Bill will limit if not destroy this right that’s central to job creation and economic growth.

Die regering se grondbeleid, as instrument om individuele grondbesit in Suid-Afrika te verhoog, kan nie ernstig opgeneem word nie. Dit is die mening van Vrystaat Landbou (VL) na die onlangse publikasie oor die Wetsontwerp op Onteiening. Volgens VL-president, Francois Wilken, bedreig die nuwe onteieningswetsontwerp alle Suid-Afrikaners se regte op eiendom.

Spesifiek die eiendomsreg van arm en gemarginaliseerde gemeenskappe sal ondermyn word.

Wilken meen dit is belangrik om te verstaan dat die verklaarde doelstellings van die nuwe Wetsontwerp op Onteiening daarop gemik is om die staat toe te laat om enige eiendom sonder vergoeding te teiken en te onteien. Met ander woorde, deur hierdie wetgewing wil die regering nie eiendomsreg uitbrei nie, maar dit probeer beperk. Geskiedenis het ons gewys dat wanneer regerings inbreuk maak op eiendomsreg, dit die armes en gemarginaliseerdes is wat die uiteindelike prys betaal.

Die regering het nie die onteieningswetsontwerp in sy huidige formaat nodig om die basis van private grondbesit in Suid-Afrika uit te brei nie. As breë grondbesit ‘n prioriteit by die regering is, moet dit ‘n proses begin om die eienaarskap van die 5 300 plase in staatsbesit aan die individuele begunstigdes (voorheen benadeelde individue) oor te dra.

VL meen dit is problematies dat wettige voorheen benadeelde individue en opkomende boere slegs as ‘n ‘huurderboer’ op die grond kan aanbly wat deur die staat besit word. Die onteieningswetsontwerp sal nie hierdie gevalle aanspreek nie – dit sal bloot die regte van die regmatige grondeienaars en die lewensbestaan van plaaswerkers en landelike gemeenskappe in die algemeen vernietig.

VL is besig om ‘n volledige verslag op te stel om te dien as reaksie op regering se versoek om kommentaar op die Wetsontwerp op Onteiening. Die organisasie is steeds heftig gekant teen sekere bepalings in die onteieningswetsontwerp. Van die spesifieke geskilpunte is dat die wetsontwerp:

  1. Dit moontlik maak om eiendom te onteien sonder vergoeding,
  2. Sluit enige eiendom in (nie net grond nie), en
  3. Laat toe dat ‘n te vae en breë definisie van ‘openbare belang’ as rede vir onteiening gebruik word.

Die geleentheid vir skriftelike openbare insette oor die Wetsontwerp op Onteiening sluit op 10 Februarie 2021. VL doen ‘n beroep op alle besorgde persone om hul stemme teen die wetsontwerp te laat hoor. Ten einde hulp te verleen, het VL ‘n portaal op hul webwerf geskep waar die publiek die kritieke afdelings van die wetgewing kan teëstaan (https://vrystaatlandbou.co.za/stop-expropriation/).

Vrystaat Landbou glo dat eiendomsreg uitgebrei moet word na alle Suid-Afrikaners. Die onteieningswetsontwerp sal egter hierdie reg, wat sentraal staan in werkskepping en ekonomiese groei, beperk indien nie totaal vernietig nie.