The contradictory messages from government officials, including the president, about custodianship and nationalization of land create concern. This was the reaction of Free State Agriculture after it was reported that ANC and EFF members of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Amendment of Article 25 of the Constitution advocate state custodianship of all land.
In response, President Ramaphosa rejected the concept of state guardianship over land, saying the ANC’s policy was to promote land ownership. In the same breath, the President reiterated his support for the Ad Hoc Committee’s mandate – which focuses on enabling expropriation without compensation.
According to Free State Agriculture president, Francois Wilken, the president’s message was slightly encouraging for some but did not align with the content of, for example, the new Expropriation Act. “It is good that Pres. Ramaphosa sends out a very clear and strong message of private land ownership, but it should not blind us to the reality of legislation that will empower the government to undermine private ownership.” says Wilken.
Free State Agriculture would like to see Pres. Ramaphosa adding action to his words on private property rights by removing those articles that undermine property rights from new expropriation legislation.
The difference between what pres. Ramaphosa and the committee members said, comes down to the fact that the Ad Hoc committee wants to alienate all citizens’ property rights while the president advocates government power that can target specific individuals or groups.
Free State Agriculture keeps to its position that broadening participation in the agricultural sector can only take place through market-oriented policies and market-driven projects. “Our members are not secondary citizens and we will continue to fight for a just order where property rights of all citizens are protected.” says Wilken.
FSA will empower its members to attend the Free State leg and final round of the public hearings on the Expropriation Bill (if it takes place) and to object to any reference to expropriation without compensation.