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Private property rights: What happens next?

ANC will be under pressure to deliver on its promises.
A parliamentary committee decided that the constitution needed to be amended, and a new committee must now decide how the amendment will play out. Picture: GCIS

The South African government’s promises to give land taken during apartheid back to black South Africans are under the spotlight during national elections this week, land experts said.

President and African National Congress (ANC) leader Cyril Ramaphosa last year launched a process to change the constitution to make explicit provision for the redistribution of land without pay to address high levels of inequality.

“The land issue over the past 18 months has exploded within South Africa,” land expert Ruth Hall told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Read: Ramaphosa moment of truth as vote count starts

“It is not merely a rural farming issue anymore. It is also an urban housing issue, and there is a lot of mobilisation around this demand for land,” Hall said.

Land ownership and income inequality remain highly emotive subjects more than two decades after the end of apartheid in a country with 27% of the population unemployed.

Currently, 72% of agricultural land is owned by white South Africans who make up 10% of the population, according to a government land audit.

Voting with their feet

Discontent around land and property rights has triggered protests and land occupations.

“There has been a dramatic spike in organised land occupation since early 2018 around the country. This shows that many people are giving up on waiting for official processes,” said Hall.

“People are voting with their feet and occupying land.”

S’bu Zikode, president of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), a shack-dwellers movement fighting for housing rights in South African townships, has been one of the voices leading these occupations.

“The constitution is not the barrier to delivering land rights,” Zikode said. “Political unwillingness is.”

The current constitution already allows for expropriation.

“Since 1994 there was no expropriation for land reform. We only saw this begin last year. This conversation around constitutional change is merely a convenient deflection for leadership in electoral season,” land lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said.

“This is not a crisis around lack of laws, it is a crisis around lack of enforcement in enacting laws.”

But AbM is also concerned that land redistribution will simply involve taking land from white elites and giving it to black elites.

“Political parties talk about the poor to legitimise their projects, but no one speaks to us to understand what we really need,” he said.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that their assistance with dispute resolution was one of the ways they aim to protect the land rights of all communities.

Fights around law 

Moves towards land expropriation have also worried markets and economists, and farming groups have warned of a potentially devastating impact on the agricultural sector.

“I believe that many concerns around expropriation are ill-informed, and are a reaction to poor political messaging around what is being planned,” said Hall.

While a parliamentary committee has decided that the constitution must be amended, there is a now a new committee that has to decide how this amendment will play out. “We are going to see lots of action on the ground but also lots of contestation in parliament around land rights in the coming year or two to clarify these details,” Hall said.

In the run-up to the elections on May 8, AbM encouraged voters to weaken the ANC’s hold in the political sphere.

“For us this a question of justice for the landless and homeless black majority,” Zikode said.

Though the ANC has won each parliamentary election since the transition from apartheid in 1994, recent opinion polls predict that it will bleed support to opposition coalitions that have gained ground as the ANC has been dogged by political scandal and a flagging economy.

“The ruling party is going to have to move in a much more rapid fashion to show it is delivering on public expectations,” Hall said. 


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We need to fix our statistical base:

1. What race is land that belongs to government, military, soe, etc? Is state land owned by us all or is it excluded from the land available to be owned?
2. What race is land under traditional leader control and is it owned by the chief or the 100,000 subjects? Massive statistical impact.
3. How do we define what a land owner’s race is? People have no race classification. Do we go to the apartheid pencil test? That last “land audit” admitted to relying on what race the surname sounded like it would be. I should introduce them to weekend special des van rooyen, or robert mcbride or any of a few thousand persons of several races that share my own surname.
4. Is land only to be measured in hectares? 100,000 hectares in northern cape is not as valuable as 1 hectare on natal north coast or constantia. Yet one carries a 100,000 times more statistical weight.

We have valuation rolls that carry most of the necessary data – except race.

Statistics rank below the category of “damn lies” in the popular saying. One can appreciate why this is the case when we see how statistics are so easily manipulated to suit a required narrative. Clearly the answers to your questions certainly do not suit the populist PC narratives because we practically never even see attempts at such answers in the media. I have never seen any hint of any sort of answer to question you raise.

Just a few thoughts: it appears that only about 5% of Black folk want to be farmers. It’s hard work, needs a lot of specialised skills and heavy capital investment. Ramaphosa’s not a fool; the ghastly evidence of Zimbabwe’s land ‘reform’ failure is right on our doorstep. It would be idiocy to mess with SA’s food supplies. At the same time, Black folk would like to own land relatively near to where they are employed. The government has vast tracts of unused land; they can start giving title deeds to people in these areas. This will require that municipal services be set up, providing water, sanitation, roads and electricity, resulting in a lot of jobs. The private sector is already getting involved; note the multi-billion renewal projects currently embarking in Jo’burg’s inner city. Because land is such an emotive issue, reason often flies out the window. I predict that it will be a non-issue in the months to come.

Firstly, the majority want a Land Uhuru pay off, so what’s new in this? Answer: Nothing at all, the Kulaks had the same idea way back in 1899 Tsarist Russia.
But why stop at Lottoing out land and or houses/apartment blocks in the ‘suburbs’? Why not vehicles or businesses or supermarket chains? I could go on and on but there you have it…Once Cyril starts dishing out the ‘land’ goodies there will be NO END to the DEMANDS until the Father Christmas sack is depleted in its entirety.
Will Cyril give in to the demands of the Chartists? You betcha he will, Julius will see to it, you can take that to the bank. Oh, just not the VBS one though, that’s long been Uhurued.

Agreed, land reform will eventually bump head on to the concrete reality that land is worthless if you can’t generate value out of it.

New land owners will eventually want to sell out at 1/10 value the land was originally worth because the can’t afford property taxes/upkeep. After years of failure, the the EFF will win the election as the electorate blindly believe their promises that socialist dreams can actually be fulfilled.

Anger and jealousy against the financially savvy and rich are as old as time (e.g. Jewish people)

The ANC mafia have yet to deliver anything but looting, corruption, murder and destruction.
They are incapable of any organized allocation of anything be it a farm or a toilet.
So amnesia will set in, the same humming and haaing that has been going on for the last 25 years will prevail.
Cyril’s problem and it is self made is the election of President. This business of electing a party to leave it to 6 corrupt criminals to elect a president is beyond belief.

Do we really think that Ace, Jessie, Enoch and David all who’s tail feathers are burning from the state capture enquiry are going to put him in to keep the investigation going?

“Currently, 72% of agricultural land is owned by white South Africans who make up 10% of the population, according to a government land audit.”
These farmers are the ‘bread basket’ of our country.

Agree I am one of them.
How motivated do you think I feel when I have to help a cow or a ewe give birth in the freezing rain or snow when this threat hangs over my head?
And my loyal well paid staff have already expressed concerns that a black owner will not employ them, but use his own children as unpaid labour.

1) Farms get confiscated
2) Production plummets
3) People starve
4) …
5) “WMC is sabotaging us!”

It will never be their fault.

Watch this space.

Not only that but the number is a bald ANC lie. All land owned by trusts, companies and government (including tribal areas and farms already taken from whites) is excluded. Then, the deeds offices do not record ownership by race so the race is guessed. This is never mentioned. It targets individual white farmers; giving big business etc a free ride; disgusting.

Then what Hall and other “experts” fail to tell us is that most (90% is the number I have seen) of successful black claimants took the cash, not the land. So the land remained in white hands. Now, egged on by Hall et al as they scramble for relevance and a paycheck, the ANC/EFF/BLF want a second bite.

Overall a divisive, dishonest, costly and destructive exercise promoted by carpetbagger and apparatchik types, all eager for something for nothing.

“Land” is just ONE type of asset. So is money.

I’m pretty certain that up to now (since 1994) MORE money was stolen via ANC corruption / self-enrichment / questionable tenders / effects of AA & BEE the past 25 years….compared to assets/money stolen during the apartheid era. How many billions did SA lose since 1994, compared to prior? If we add it up…it will likely outweigh the so-called theft during apartheid. (“only” Eskom’s national debt is equivalent to the cost of six US Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, which is one small part of this picture).

The assets acquired through such corruption since ’94 also needs to be given back to the legal owners / society.

Relac anc; you never do what you promise in any case and it has always worked out so well for you. Forget about land ownership and just focus on economic growth. As soon as people have money (not land) they will be happy.

This has nothing to do with land at all. It’s merely a smokescreen to cover two things (a) the enormous past and continuous pillage of the fiscus, thus depriving the poor of services and (b) an implicit acknowledgement that the indigenous population is simply unable to create economic surpluses for themselves in a non-iron or stone age society. Facts

The land issue is just a new way of distracting the illiterate from what the ANC Govt. has already stolen to keep their votes. JJ has a different agenda, he wants to present SA with a Venezuela and a Zim using the land issue.

There is an even bigger discrepancy with 87% of the taxes paid by 20% of the people so until that imbalance is addressed perhaps we should ignore the land distribution imbalance?
Just my opinion as a taxpayer and land owner whose family has been here since 1667 – that’s a lot of tax that’s been paid! Not sure where the value is these days!

End of comments.





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