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“This is nothing more than a repetition of Zimbabwean land policy.” This was the reaction of Free State Agriculture (FSA) after the former Minister of Agriculture, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, announced during the state of the nation address debate on Wednesday that MK veterans will receive expropriated farms.
“The government can expect strong opposition from Free State Agriculture. This statement confirms that the bona fides of the new Expropriation Act are suspicious”, says Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture.
With this statement, the ruling party have hung out their Zimbabwe petticoat: For the agricultural community, it confirms the growing risk that the state will follow a Zimbabwe approach to land ownership. Ironically, land redistribution, restitution and land reform plays no role in such decisions. This means that land ownership and political association will be decisive and there are already examples of this”, Wilken said.
In a recent incident, Ivan Cloete from the Western Cape was informed by government officials that he had to leave his state rental farm because an MK veteran would receive the farm. This is the third time that the state has taken a farm away from Cloete, despite the fact that he managed each farm successfully.
According to rumours, Cloete was intimidated and harassed by government officials. The group of government officials threatened him with illegal eviction if he did not immediately hand over the farm and leave.
Last year, an attempt was made to deprive David Rakgase of his farm after he had rented his farm from the state since 1991. Rakgase was later able to buy the land in June 2020, after the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the government’s inability to sell the farm to him was unconstitutional. Rakgase, however, has since been waiting for his title deed, while the state again pointed out his land as state land which will be made available to others.
According to Wilken, expropriation without compensation would be an abuse of political power. As the case currently unfolds, it appears that state wants the final decision-making right over who may own property. Where individual property is destroyed, human rights are violated – just as in Zimbabwe.
Anyone who wants to oppose the Expropriation Amendment Act can record their input on Free State Agriculture’s website (https://vrystaatlandbou.co.za/stop-expropriation/). This input will be handed over to parliament.