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Ramaphosa’s land panel endorses a careful approach

Supports amending the constitution but wants a bill that provides clarity on the kind of land that can be expropriated and when compensation can or cannot apply.

President Cyril Ramphosa’s expert panel of advisors on land reform has endorsed the amendment of the constitution for the state to expropriate land without compensation – but only in well-defined and clear circumstances.

In a 144-page final report published on Sunday, a majority of the 10-member panel, which was appointed by Ramaphosa in September 2018 to review all aspects of the land reform policy, want the state to finalise amendments to the long-mooted Expropriation Bill.

The passing of this bill might be further delayed because a new parliament was installed after the May 8 general elections, some members of parliament are yet to read the final report, and the National Assembly is on a three-week recess until mid-August.

Read: Land expropriation: the acid test for Cyril’s commitment to policy consistency

Once the bill has been finalised by parliament, the panel said it would set out a clear procedure on the kind of land that can be expropriated and when compensation can or cannot apply. Essentially, the panel wants the bill to give guidelines to the state on land reform and redistribution.

An ‘explicit option’

In August 2018, parliament’s public works committee withdrew the Expropriation Bill in order to draft a new bill that would repeal the current Expropriation Act of 1975. The new bill would be in sync with the state’s plan to review section 25 of the constitution (dubbed the property clause) to make land expropriation without compensation an explicit option.

This section currently gives the state the power to expropriate land for land reform based on “just and equitable compensation”. However, the new Expropriation Bill of 2019 would allow the state to expropriate land, in the public interest, without compensation, but only in defined circumstances.

In other words, the state can expropriate land without compensation if it identifies land that is abandoned, hopelessly indebted, held purely for speculative purposes, obtained through criminal activity, and unutilised by state-owned entities. Land already occupied and used by labour tenants and former labour tenants, people in informal settlement areas, inner-city buildings with absentee landlords, land donations, and farm equity schemes would also be expropriated.

Read: Zimbabwe begins paying white farmers who had land expropriated

“It is important that the [Expropriation] Bill must specify much more clearly the meaning of instances that would amount to ‘nil’ compensation, [for example] land held for ‘speculative reasons’, and the meaning and import of ‘abandoned land’. Alternatively, this could be a matter for clarity by the courts,” reads the final report of the panel.

The panel includes 10 people ranging from academia, agricultural economics and law to representatives of organised agriculture and black farmers. The panel was set up by Ramaphosa after public hearings on the land question held country-wide underscored the state’s failure to redistribute land and implement meaningful land reform since 1996. The panel’s final report is meant to inform government policy on land reform.

Measured approach

Arguably, the panel’s report provides clarity on how the state can expropriate land without compensation in a measured way compared with the blanket resolution proposed by the ANC at its national elective conference in 2017, where Ramaphosa emerged victorious as the party’s leader.

At the ANC elective conference, the governing party resolved to pursue expropriation of land without compensation by amending section 25 of the constitution. In doing so, the ANC said expropriation without compensation should be pursued without destabilising the agricultural sector, without endangering food security and without undermining economic growth and job creation.

Panel is against nationalising land

The panel has also ruled out nationalisation of land, which it said was not allowed under the constitution – pouring cold water on the Economic Freedom Fighter’s policy to nationalise all land.

The panel found that the failure of SA’s land reform programme to establish a new generation of sustainable household, small scale, and commercial black farmers was caused by lack of security of tenure in the form of title deeds, as well as state and institutional weakness and corruption.

The panel has made wide-ranging recommendations, including, among others, that the state:

  • Develop an audit and national data portal of land rights as most landownership data is not reliable;
  • Strengthen the under-resourced Land Court to speedily deal with land claims and disputes; and
  • Improve oversight, investigations, and prosecutions to stop land-related corruption.

Another recommendation is to target access to land for housing and settlement among marginalised people in both urban and rural areas – including the establishment of a land reform fund that will crowd contributions from the private and public sector for land acquisition and housing development in well-located areas.

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Don’t expect them to ever get clarity on what land to expropriate. This committee on land reform is part of an obscure experiment in socio-economics. They made a congress resolution to expropriate, but now they do not know whose land to expropriate, whether they should pay for it, what they should pay for it, who to give it to, whether they should keep it or how to prevent beneficiaries from selling it.

They will never be able to clear up the confusion because they themselves are very confused, and every step they take confuses them more. It is non-sensical to search for a logical, coherent way of implementing an illogical, incoherent plan.

There is only one workable plan for land redistribution. This plan was invented and perfected over many ages. This is respect for property rights and law-and-order. A willing buyer and a willing seller is the foundation of this efficient system. Does this panel realize that each step they take away from this efficient system, takes them a step closer to hyperinflation of the currency? These failed experiments always become the Reserve Banks’ problem in the end.

In effect, if we look through the fog to see the ultimate results, the ANC voters will be expropriating their own personal livelihoods without any compensation.

We should call this panel by its real name – “The panel for economic destruction and the spreading of poverty”.

Agree Sensei, willing buyer willing seller.

ie if you want to farm and have the expertise, buy a farm and do it.

If you want to own a super market and have the expertise do it, or of you want a gold mine do it.

If you can’t carry on with what you are doing.

Don’t let a whole lot of people lose on all sorts of things they know nothing about. sometimes you cannot have first prize.

They’re expected to come up with a plan motivated by hate, greed and envy, so don’t expect coherence.

This is simply a smokescreen to placate the radical left. The ANC’s plan of wealth confiscation and white impoverishment is already rolling and has been thus for a long time. Lenin is reputed to have said “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation”. This is exactly what the ANC are doing. By an ongoing process of currency debasement, all properties will soon be withing the ambit of capital gains tax. The ANC will thus usurp a large chunk of your wealth every time you sell a property. The only solution is to externalise your wealth in your onw name.

Richardthe Great, well said. By means of their monopoly over the issuance of currency, the government controls and manages the escalation in rates and taxes, Capital Gains Tax, income tax and estate duties. They expropriate our assets by means of the tool called “Bracket creep”. They will use the combination of currency debasement and bracket creep to syphon off the pension savings and capital appreciation the assets of citizens to pay down government debt. Economists even invented a name for this process – “Modern Monetary Policy”.

“but only in well-defined and clear circumstances”… which the report then goes and does exactly the opposite.

Do people not understand that listing vague and open ended conditions like “not limited to” and the broad and abstract “for speculative purposes” is not acceptable?

Ramaphosa’s typical compromise and middle of the road approach simply will not do here. Either we have private property rights or we don’t.

All this gobbly gook does is create even more uncertainty and fear on a country already on its knees. Expect the Bruce brigade to cheer this on as enthusiastically as some sort of constitutional revolutionary breakthrough.

Agreed: “land that is held purely for speculative purposes” is really scary. If you own a townhouse that you get rental income from, which you’re hoping to sell one day, you’re speculating. If you own shares from which you hope to get dividends, you’re speculating. The company managing your pension or RA is also speculating with investments. These communist cadres have just opened to the door to taking not only your property, but also your pension. From there it’s a very small step to taking the clothes off your back.

The ANC has stolen everything that isn’t nailed down.

Now they are coming for the stuff that is nailed down: health and land.

This is Land Charter 1. In four years we will get Land Charter 2, and so on.

Heading is apt – They will have to approach VERY carefully if they come for my land!

make note of all the people that is now pro land expropriation – when sa becomes the 2nd zimbabwe, one will know by name who is then directly responsible for the mess created by the anc and friends

Most of what the panel suggests should be implemented for the current mandate of “just and equitable compensation” to work properly anyway. Maybe that’s why it has not worked in the past.

No need to change to “UNJUST and INEQUITABLE compensation” if the current mandate was not fulfilled due to the inability of the government to do it’s job.

Why would they do their job when the constitution is changed if they did not manage before?

Just go and do your job they way it should be done and there would be no need to continue with this populist rhetoric.

Dont confuse yourself… This has never been about the actual land, its about setting up the framework to have absolute control within the state…

Oh you not complying on XX government policy (read BEE, read any illogical rubbish they try to force on you), search deeds register and take his house… It WILL end up there no matter how nicely we try word this, it is a perversion.

Ha ha the on going soap opera. This Goon show has been going on since 1995 with no result.
So now action man CR has taken a cautious view……read “have no clue how to do this”

Don’t hold your breath. CR should rather focus on a few other issues, one that springs to mind is Eskom………

If you have proof that you bought your land, serviced the debt or still servicing it through your bank but because of the state of the economy the land is currently not in use. Is the government going to pay you all that you have lost and soon going to loose. I do not think so!!!
What wrong with this country of dreamers and not realist !!!

We should be concentrating on creating jobs and creating an environment of people to want to invest. This will than empower people to learn to acquire assets themselves and they will appreciate these assets more than the free gifts.

Up until now 92% of land settlements have been for cash rather than land.

This shows most claimants don’t want to work the asset to add value to it. If so, may as well collect the 92% who want the money and pay them first.

You don’t even need a constitutional change to solve this problem.. unless you want a legal license for potential theft and corruption. So Cadres 1 : 0 Poor. Another transformation failure coming soon.

The countries credit rating is at risk, it is being stolen stupid( See Prasa story on News24), tourists are being slaughtered on the mountains, unemployment is out of control, the SOEs are bust, the army is doing SAPS work,commission after commission reveals wholesale fraud and theft-all un-prosecuted- and the focus of this ANC led circus is looking at land reform and NHI.

How useless is this ANC crowd-hopeless -incapable of governing( quote from Margaret Thatcher)

EWC has been going on without people realizing it for a long time….

Whilst Gov are appropriating additional funds and increases in TAX/Levies/Sundries to bankrupt SOE’s, they are at the same time expropriating our cash without compensation…..

Soon they will expropriate our pensions on a non return basis…..96% of our earning population will be amongst the poorest in the world if it continues.

The recent property rates increased are on unrealistic evaluations to increase your rates bill, in cases we know of it increased by up to 51.43 % whilst the property values has been in a down turn over the paste 3 years. They are expropriating your cash faster than you know. These unrealistic rates is forcing people out of their homes and expropriating them from their hard earned cash. Properties are becoming liabilities not investments…

Unfortunately, SA’s are forced to sell property at below cost, but where do they go from there..?

Is stealing slowly and selectively any less of a theft?

This is an insurance policy, to be activated if support for the ANC starts to wane further. Lets all hope things turn around enough for it to remain a theoretical construct.

The African National Corruption has proved beyond all doubt that what they say and do are two entirely different things! You simply cannot trust the African National Corruption!

This takes me back two plus decades to the 1990’s…when Nelson M , Cyril R, FW de K & Roelf Meyer was most in the daily news.

There was a 4-yr Convention to negotiate the end of Apartheid towards a democratic SA. It was called CODESA. (remember it still? 😉

At the time, a mischievous varsity classmate of mine uttered, he knew what CODESA stood for:

“Conference Of Dictatorship Ensuring a Socialist Azania” !! *lol*

(Needless to say, we all burst out laughing about his cheeky comment, and was often mocked. Today we don’t laugh at it, realising this visionary classmate was spot-on.)

If the ANC adopts the same policy on land appropriation as Mugabe then we are sunk. The proof of the pudding is blatantly clear when we observe the dire situation that Zim is in now. But little hope really. It would appear that when the ANC comes to a fork in in the political road they seem to obsessed in taking the wrong turn and stay clear of the decision that right thinking people would take.
Franky

I think Dawie Roodt once said that if there is one thing investors dislike even more than bad news, it is policy uncertainty.

Based on the aforegoing, nobody has scored more economic own goals than the ANC.

Please Mr President, leave this issue aside until you have restored the safety and security for the citizens of this country! Surely you can see the strife this country is in, has been in for decades?

You need to prioritize the safety of your people by repairing a broken police force. If you could achieve this, if you could make South Africa safe from the onslaught and endless attacks by criminals on citizens of this country the economy would benefit, everything would get better everyone would do better, the economy would do better. Foreign investment would increase, tourism would explode!

When people feel safe they get out more, they spend more, they enjoy life more and by spending more the economy does better which will create more jobs and so on. Fixing our broken police force and restoring law and order to this country will do way more good in every aspect than changing the damn land bill.

“held purely for speculative purposes” – What’s next, you can’t hold shares for speculative purposes?

I am interested to see how many claimants will change from the mostly financial payouts to expropriated land that is going to then most likely be worthless, especially if they were held for speculative purposes.

I have seen a couple of land claims and they are generally a letter written by someone saying my family lived here once with little to no evidence attached.

I don’t know the exact figure but I saw a few people suggesting 50bn has been spent on land cliams. Shut down the financial payout and it will be interesting to see where it all goes.

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