The Looming Threat to Property Rights

The following is a summary of some of the points made by Dave Steward, Executive Director of the FW de Klerk Foundation, in a speech to the Conference on Land Ownership in South Africa on 31 May 2013.

Perhaps one of the most unpalatable truths of our time is that our government is planning a multi-pronged assault on the property rights of white South Africans.

The assault includes proposals in the 2011 Green Paper on Land Reform; Tokyo Sexwale’s announcement last week regarding the “deracialisation of white suburbs“; and the recently published draft Expropriation Bill.

The Green Paper advocates ‘Agrarian Transformation’ which would result in “a rapid and fundamental change in …systems and patterns of ownership and control… of land, livestock, cropping and community.” It proposes far-reaching changes to traditional forms of land ownership including the proposition that, in future, privately owned land will be freehold with ‘limited extent‘.

Minister Sexwale’s plan to “deracialise white suburbs” might erode the value of the most important asset that most South Africans own – their homes. “De-racialisation” would be achieved by “obliging” banks “to provide loans to black people to purchase property in previously exclusive white suburbs“. However, there are no longer any “exclusively white suburbs“. People – whatever their race – can buy homes anywhere they like provided they can pay the prevailing market price.

The draft Expropriation Bill gives effect to the constitutional provision that property may be expropriated in the national interest which “includes the nation’s commitment to land reform, and reforms to bring about equitable access to all South Africa’s natural resources”. However, it then adds the words “and other related reforms in order to redress the results of past racial discriminatory laws or practices“. This could conceivably be used to justify the expropriation of virtually any property owned by white South Africans which might be obliquely linked in some way or the other to “past racial discriminatory laws and practices”.

What then is the origin of this multi-pronged attack on white property rights? The answer lies in the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) – which is the guiding ideology of the ruling alliance.

The NDR’s primary goal is “the resolution of the antagonistic contradictions between the oppressed majority (blacks) and their oppressors (whites); as well as the resolution of the national grievance arising from the colonial relations.”

According to the ANC’s Strategy and Tactics documents, “a critical element of the programme for national emancipation should be the elimination of apartheid property relations. This requires: the de-racialisation of ownership and control of wealth, including land; equity and affirmative action in the provision of skills and access to positions of management…”

According to the ANC, this is a continuing struggle “which, as a matter of historical necessity, will loom ever larger as we proceed along the path of fundamental change.”

In March last year, the ANC announced that the time had at last arrived for it to proceed more vigorously with its efforts to eradicate the socio-economic legacy of apartheid. Minister Jeff Radebe, the ANC’s Policy Chief, proclaimed that “having concluded our first transition with its focus in the main, on political democratization, we need a vision that must focus on the social and economic transformation of SA over the next 30 to 50 years”.

Radebe’s views were endorsed by President Zuma in his opening address to the ANC Policy Conference in June 2012. He said that the ANC intended “to democratise and de-racialise the ownership and control of the economy by empowering Africans and the working class in particular to play a leading role”.

The Policy Conference reached broad agreement that “this second phase of the transition should be characterised by more radical policies and decisive action to effect thorough-going socio-economic and continued democratic transformation…”

The ANC’s National Conference at Mangaung in December last year endorsed the central elements of the “Second Phase” approach. It proclaimed that “we are boldly entering the second phase of the transition from apartheid colonialism to a national democratic society. This phase will be characterised by decisive action to effect economic transformation and democratic consolidation, critical both to improve the quality of life of all South Africans and to promote nation-building and social cohesion.”

There can be very little doubt about the seriousness of the ANC’s commitment to the redistribution of white-owned land and property. It will proceed as quickly as the objective circumstances and developing balance of power will permit.

The ANC is preparing the ground for the Second Phase by concentrating on three basic arguments. The first arises from its version of South African history in terms of which everything that happened before 1994 was irredeemably evil. Increasing use is made of the term “apartheid colonialism” – implying that whites are transient alien interlopers.

The second leitmotif is the notion that economically and socially nothing has changed in South Africa since 1994.

The third theme is the ANC’s insistence that most of the country’s current problems – and especially the triple crisis of inequality, poverty and unemployment – can be ascribed to the legacy of the past.

Whatever the historic merit – or lack of merit – of these arguments, it would be surprising if they do not stir up some degree of racial animosity – or at the very least – reinforce perceptions of white moral inferiority and black entitlement. Inevitably they will fuel demands for restitution – particularly of land.

White South Africans should wake up to the unpleasant fact that they are the main target of the NDR. Their government has launched a multi-faceted campaign to undermine their legitimate interests and rights on the basis of their race. They are like the proverbial frogs in the pot: the water is simmering and the ANC is turning up the heat.

We should seek to engage the ANC leadership at the highest possible level in very frank debate about these issues. The really scary possibility is that the ANC actually believes its own propaganda.

Above all we should defend the Constitution, the values that it espouses and the rights it protects. We should also draw the ANC’s attention to section 9(3) of the Constitution in terms of which the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds – including race.

By Dave StewartFW de Klerk Foundation

The Looming Threat to Property Rights


Willing buyer, willing seller principle to go

Government is to drop the “willing-buyer, willing seller” principle with regard to land reform and restitution, President Jacob Zuma confirmed on Thursday.

Willing buyer, willing seller principle to go

President Jacob Zuma with wife Sizakele Khumalo Zuma at the opening of parliament in Cape Town. (Nielen de Klerk, News24)

“We must shorten the time it takes to finalise a claim. In this regard, government will now pursue the ‘just and equitable’ principle for compensation, as set out in the Constitution,” he announced in his State of the Nation address on Thursday.

Telling MPs that the land question in South Africa was a “highly emotive matter”, Zuma said the willing-buyer, willing seller principle previously applied had forced the state to pay more for land.

“The land question is a highly emotive matter. We need to resolve it amicably within the framework of the Constitution and the law.”

Zuma said he had been urged to accelerate land redistribution.

“From 1994, we have been addressing the land reform problem through restitution, redistribution, and tenure reform. As stated before, we will not be able to meet our redistribution targets.”

Government’s mid-term review last year had revealed a number of shortcomings in its land reform implementation programme.

Zuma said there were proposed amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act “in order to provide for the re-opening of the lodgement of restitution claims, by people who missed the deadline of December 31, 1998”.

Also being looked at were “exceptions to the June 1913 cut-off date, to accommodate claims by the descendants of the Khoi and San, as well as heritage sites and historical landmarks”.

Zuma said commercial farmers also needed to be offered better incentives to mentor smallholder farmers.

“Another challenge we have faced is the preference for money instead of land by some claimants, which also does not help us to change land ownership patterns.”

Willing buyer, willing seller principle to go

Boere se grond sal afgevat word – Tony Ehrenreich

Boere wat weens die 52%-verhoging in die minimum loon wil herstruktureer en plaaswerkers wil aflê, se plase sal afgevat word, het Tony Ehrenreich, Wes-Kaapse voorsitter van die vakverbond Cosatu, volgens gewaarsku.

There will be blood on the farmers of these farms - Tony Ehrenreich

Tony Ehrenreich

Landbou-unies en landbouleiers het aangedui dat die verhoging van die minimum loon tot R105 per dag onbekostigbaar is en tot werksverliese sal lei.

Ehrenreich het gesê dat boere moet voortgaan om hierdie dreigemente te maak.

Die herstrukturering sal plaasvind, maar deel daarvan sal daartoe lei dat hulle hul plase sal verloor.”

As hulle nie hul grond kan gebruik nie, moet hulle dit verloor en elders heen gaan.

Hy het bygevoeg dat dreigemente van afleggings nie op dowe ore sal val nie en dat een van die gevolge sal wees dat grond van boere wat haaks is, aan “goeie boere” gegee sal word wat die land wil laat werk.

Boere sal grond verloor, sê Ehrenreich

Land reform proposals to be implemented

Proposals for the redistribution of land found in the government’s land reform green paper would come into effect as early as March next year, Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Saturday.

“All these new land reform policies will come into effect during the first quarter of the year next year”, Nkwinti said.

He was speaking to the Transformation of Certain Rural Areas Act and the Rural Areas Act (Trancaa) consultative workshop in Cape Town.

The new policies included a four-tier land tenure system, which accounted for leased land to farmers, land redistribution, foreign ownership of land and the implementation of a democratic communal land system.

Nkwinti said cabinet had approved the proposal to establish the office of the valuer-general, which would control land prices involving government land purchases for public interest.

He emphasised that the willing-buyer-willing-seller principle would continue for individual citizens who would be selling land to each other.

A land rights management board along with its district committees would also be set up next year to protect farm workers against unfair evictions.

The land management commission would be responsible for all registration of private and public land.

SourceLand reform proposals to be implemented

%d bloggers like this: