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Unused land is main target of SA’s expropriation plan

ANC is saying to landowners: ‘use it or lose it’.
The ANC also says it has missed a 2014 target of transferring 30% of farmland to black hands under a 'willing-seller, willing buyer model,' with only 8% transferred. Picture: Shutterstock

South Africa‘s plan to expropriate land without compensation in order to redress racial disparities in land ownership would target mainly unused land, a senior official with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Tuesday.

As part of long-promised reforms, the ANC in December adopted a resolution to expropriate land without compensation for redistribution to landless black South Africans, provided this was done in a manner that does not threaten food security or undermine economic growth.

Land ownership remains a highly emotive subject more than two decades after the end of apartheid. Whites still own most of South Africa‘s land. Moves towards land expropriation have also worried markets and economists and farming groups have warned of a potentially devastating impact on the agricultural sector.

David Masondo, a member of the ANC’s Economic Transformation Committee, said the aim of the resolution was not to target “all land that is productively utilised … but use it or lose it, even if you are black.”

“It includes vacant land, unused land, and land used for speculative purposes,” he told a breakfast seminar with reporters.

The ANC has been fleshing out the resolution, using its majority in South Africa‘s parliament to back a motion last week seeking to change the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation. It then instructed a committee to review the constitution and report back to it by Aug. 30.

Masondo also said the ANC was mulling reforms that would provide title deeds for the estimated 17 million people who reside in the former “homelands”, to which most black South Africans were confined under apartheid.

“We are thinking about title deeds for these rural areas,” Masondo said in response to a question.

Speaking to Reuters afterwards, he said the ANC as a party would be discussing this issue in workshops.

“It would be empowering for rural people,” he said.

Land use in these poor, rural areas remains communal and controlled by traditional leaders, who are likely to resist such changes. They also comprise a key ANC political base that was cultivated by former president Jacob Zuma, a traditional Zulu.

New South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that he was aiming to resolve the land issue “once and for all” but stressed that the process will be orderly and that food production and security must be preserved.

Property rights

AfriForum, an organisation that mostly represents white South Africans on issues like affirmative action, said foreign investments in South Africa will also not be safe should for land expropriation without compensation go ahead.

Agricultural economists and farming groups have warned that any undermining of property rights could have a devastating impact on South Africa‘s agricultural sector, which accounts for less than 3% of national output but is a major employer and feeds Africa‘s most industrialised economy.

The farm loan book is estimated at around R160 billion ($13.5 billion) and there are concerns that farmers could default or may stop investing in their land out of fear that it could be compensated.

“Farmers are uncertain and asking if they should invest. Why would you invest if someone is just going to take it?,” Omri van Zyl, the chief executive of AgriSA, a farm industry umbrella group, told Reuters.

The government says that 72% of private land is in white hands and only 4% is owned by blacks, with other racial groups accounting for the rest.

The ANC also says it has missed a 2014 target of transferring 30% of farmland to black hands under a “willing-seller, willing buyer model,” with only 8% transferred.

AgriSA disputes these figures and says about 27% of agricultural land is in black hands. Its figure includes farmland owned by the state and plots tilled by black subsistence farmers in the homelands.

Van Zyl said much of the land in the former homelands was “prime for agriculture” but was being underutilised and its commercial potential was not being unlocked. 


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This is not about the land at all . It’s about taking the productive farm or business . There is plenty of land but that’s far to much work and it requires skill and a long time to build a productive farm . So just take one ! The banks need to put Government on notice that all farm loans will be called in if the constitution is changed . Government has already taken over 4000 farms and none of them of been transferred to new owners . Any bets that the first new owners will all be Government ministers . The mind boggles .

Very true. We’d be foolish to think once Zuma had gone so would the rot of corruption

Farms and only the most productive are the next game in the arena of the ANC rot

One would think this government would have noticed how the rest of Africa went into terminal decline once the “gimme gimme gimme” attitude went rampant

Wish the banks had the test icles to do this but they don’t. Lookat how FNB doubled down on the crime issue a few years ago. In fact banks have become agents of the state.

most farms are already paid up ( inherited/family business farms ) these will be taken first to avoid the loan/bond issues. And yes, just like the old NP regime that looked well only after Doctors,Lawyers,Farmers and Dominees the ANC WILL give farms to Ministers …..I can’t think of one NP minister that doesn’t own a farm.

Please substantiate your claim regarding most farms being paid off by giving us factual information?

common sense?

I know a lot of farmers and most borrowed money to buy the land and incur great debt to fund their businesses.
These guys are on crazy overdrafts.
It’s a cut throat business which due to climate change and an unsupportive government is getting tougher.

So no, I don’t agree with your “common sense” comment

“We are thinking about title deeds for these rural areas,” Masondo said in response to a question.

1. The Chiefs in rural areas will need to give up their land so that title deeds can be given to the “tenants”. This I’d like to see. The Zulu king has already dug his heels.
2. Agricultural land is an ALREADY an issue.
2.1 The tea plantation in Moegabaskoof in Limpopo is one case that went horribly wrong. A successful farm where the owners simply left because of expropriation,
2.2 Productive land in Litsetelly Valley, near Tzaneen; is operating at subsistence level because the land was given back to the queen.
2.2 Whereas ZZZ tomatoes in Tzaneen is a success story where transformation is in process.

Will the land expropriation exercise shock the economy back to life to boost SA’s employment stats?

I think not.

Good question! 😉 We know the answer to that.

Strange then that the ZAR exchange rate hold up so well the past few weeks, and the JSE indices did not crash as such. Why does the business world/investors shrug this land issue off? (ongoing Cyrileuphoria probably & the fact that Zuma is gone?) Makes no sense.

No reason to complain. With a strong ZAR currently, it’s great timing to increase offshore exposure. And if the ZAR gets even stronger, you just add more rand-hedge to your portfolio. I time will come it will again swing back wildly..

Most people may differ, but the investment community is the most intelligent part of society. They analyze the situation, and form an opinion based on facts, while trying to ignore the emotional side of the debate. The general population (and the press) on the other hand, is the opposite. They ignore the facts and are ruled by, and stoke the emotions of the land debate.

Over the last 24 years, before every national election, the ANC promised to take land, but they never did. At the Polokwane Conference they promised radical economic transformation and what did they deliver? Not increased taxes for individuals or companies, but higher VAT rates for ANC members! So it is clear that the leadership of the ANC are over-promising and under-delivering to their supporters, as part of an effort to castrate the EFF. If the majority wanted to nationalize everything, why does the EFF only pull 6% of the votes?

The mere fact that the banks are still willing to fund farmers who want to buy land, tells you that they are not worried about expropriation without compensation. They have to play along with the lousy politicians and keep their opinion to themselves though.

But the again, I could be horribly wrong.

I hope you’re right Sensei 🙂

Am beginning to wonder the land issue is (hopefully) ‘hot air’ just to drum up more ANC votes come 2019 / to counter against a populous EFF / and to keep the supporters of the old Zuma-camp happy, for the sake of party UNITY.

Almost like “rocket man” Kim Jong Un with his threats to the US, S/Korea and Japan.

But what IF we’re wrong…we’ll then, I suppose it will be our own “Auschwitz”

(Either way, it’s always a sound strategy to have decent offshore exposure…our tiny market is only 0,5% of world economy.)

That land, the allocation and use thereof needs to be redressed and attended to, is necessary to achieve a stable country and a prosperous economy. The debate should rather be on how to achieve this objective in a sensible way that will still work and compliment the purpose over the long run.

a) The marginalised needs a property stand with a title deed to build a house, keep a few chickens and maintain a vegetable garden. They don’t need farms and neither do they have the desire or the means to farm economically. This can be addressed by local authorities, provincial government and national government out of available land to be developed.

b) The utilisation of land controlled by traditional leaders needs new thinking leading to better results such as community cooperative farming similar to the cabuts system in Israel. Where necessary this land can be added to out of available government stock.

c) Then government and organised agriculture needs to embark on a commercial farming assistance program whereby serious upcoming black farmers are assisted and monitored over a long period in order to succeed commercially.

d) S.A. also needs to consider future transition of land and in this regard should seriously consider the Namimbia model of first right of refusal to buy land that comes on the market or where a family ceases farming activities.

e) Land restitution in the cases where people where forcefully removed from land without compensation to them should continue and needs to be fast tracked.

g) Protection of property rights in respect of residential, commercial and industrial properties as well as small holdings and bigger farms actively and commercially utilised.

f) S.A. should re-think the model of land allocation to traditional leaders, to communities, to individual farmers or as property stands to the poor so as to ensure proper progress are achieved i.e. (i) initial 10 year ownership title with a fall-back provision to the state if the land is not occupied or beneficially utilised (ii) and with an automatic ownership extension clause for another 50 years thereafter, etc.

The “how” is what has become imperative.

Cooperative farming will never work. In Eastern Europe the communists forced people into cooperatives and people tried to do as little work as possible. Everybody was saving his energy to work on his tiny plot of land around his house. How do you distribute the income between people who put in different amount of work? Just because somebody works 8 hours on a farm he might do less than somebody else putting in only 2 hours.

exactly the same goes for cooperative governance….well, haven’t seen it work since 1994.

What the EFF is saying about land is different to what this character is saying and the EFF is calling the shots over land. EFF says ALL land will belong to the state. No one will own land apart from the state. The mind boggles.

Malema is a nasty little power hungry communist, nothing new…history has seen his ilk many times over…

AND that includes residential properties.

Title deeds to to former homelands is a good idea. Expropriation of unused land? The reason this will not work is there cannot be a clear definition to “unused”, but also once pandora’s box is open it cannot be closed. In such a corrupt country this measure will likely be abused. This also includes black unused land, and I thought the main concern was whites that owns too much land? Apart from providing title deeds to homeland citizens the whole exercise is a very bad idea. If 90% of restitution recipients did not opt for cash the ownership ratio would have looked much better by now. Imagine if former homelands can be used productively. The additional job opportunities, tax income, rural development, food exports, lower food prices, lower rate of urbanisation and hence less informal settlement, lower crime.

The way the land question has been handled by Ramphosa has only brought panic to many. He has shown his mettle. No guts.

And they have forgotten how Mugabe was overthrown and why…………..

Maybe it’s time to stop with what I’m doing now, and instead go into the FOOD IMPORTATION business. Surely the demand will pick up in the next decade, as 55mil people will be unable to relocate to the country to the south of SA.

Malema will probably one day take my house. But first, it must resemble its appearance in 1652. Thus I will send in a bulldozer to level it with the ground and fill the pool with sand. I will even take out the irrigation pipes so that it looks just like 1652. I will also burn down the last tree in the garden. Then Malema can go and sit there in the sun and scratch his b*lls whilst quietly watching the world go by. He may get the land but not the improvements on it. But he wants it for free. Lazy bast*rd- go and work for it like I did.

What is Solomon, living in Soweto going to do when he hears he has a farm between Springbok and Port Nolloth? Pack his stuff and move………???? Me thinks not.

The land grab by the authoritarian ANC regime is a confirmation of their failed policies.It confirms clearly the racial prejudice against law abiding,hard working and innovative white farmers.Rainbow nation ? No pure racisim towards whites It is clear that the ANC regime does not put South Africa first ,but itself instead.Blacks have proven themselves a failure as commercial farmers throughout Africa.No competitive black owned commercial farms have successfully been managed during the past 24 years of our called democracy.The rest of Africa has had more than 40 years within which to prove their agrarian excellence,and have dismally failed.This has nothing to do with farming but is simply Ramaphosa posturing to the masses for their vote.Once the two thirds majority has been achieved to amend the Constitution the rule of law will be replaced mob-rule.

Ok why does all land need to be nationalised to do this? Herman Mashaba is talking about using abandoned buildings as additional housing, why has this not happened long ago?

Also, why is buying land for speculative purposes a problem? Is profit a swear word in SA because if so then we should down all investment.

It reminds me of this poem:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Now just take socialist/unionist/jew, and replace it with unoccupied land/white owned land/Xhosa owned land.

Because if this gets implemented and they one day run out of unoccupied land, where are they going to turn? White owned land? And after that?

This would be a far more progressive journey if Government spent some time on explaining the HOW and WHAT. I have come across people who are truly willing to shed some land and then help the new owners to make a success of it, in South Africa nogal! So, not everyone is wildly dramatic about the intent. But Government scuppers all the leverage they have by focusing on the political benefits instead of the economic benefits. Take the issue of water. South Africa is on a slippery slope on supplying its citizens with clean water and enough supplies. The whole country faces “day zero” at some point in future, so if you want to use land wisely, think about how to secure the country’s water supplies in some of that land. For farming, make the current farm-workers the new beneficiaries of this program, and give them support on matters involving complex finance needs. Done right, this can be an extremely creative process that can trigger goodwill for the country in general. But right now, nothing gives me the assurance it’s being done profitably.

End of comments.



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