In 24 years, the ruling party has failed to adequately address the issues of land redistribution and expropriation. In an effort to right these wrongs, President Cyril Ramaphosa backed a motion tabled by the EFF that called for a constitutional amendment for land expropriation without compensation, even as the governing party’s amendments effectively watered down the original opposition motion.
However, the question of land reform is not one easily addressed.
“People are incredibly desperate to get a permanent place to stay and it comes with a history of requiring land,” says Lizette Lancaster from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in an article by News24.
She says the trend from 2013 to 2018 showed that at least 70 protests related to land invasion had turned violent.
The desperation felt by many is used as a political too to increase supporters or stir up anger against the opposition.
According to News 24, an attempted landgrab in the coastal town of Hermanus in the Western Cape on Monday turned violent, following a tense standoff with groups of protesters and police, Marchers sett a recycling plant and a police station alight, stoned cars and demolished buildings. Police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Land invasions are increasing
Since the start of the year, more than 10 areas across the country have been invaded, says News24. Earlier this month, areas north of Johannesburg, including Olievenhoutbosch, Blue Hills and Waterfall were invaded.
Image credit: News24
Other areas targeted in Gauteng included Marlboro, Alexandra, the Golden Highway near Eldorado Park, Weilers Farm, Orange Farm Extension 10 and East Lynne.
The Western Cape has also experienced invasions in Dunoon and Gugulethu.
Parliament is due to debate the issue of expropriation of land without compensation in August, after an amended EFF motion was passed to review section 25 of the Constitution.
However, according to News24, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has indicated that she is preparing for a test case to expropriate land without compensation. “We cannot wait for Parliament,” she says.
The red flags
According to News24:
South Africans who own land are also wary of the arbitrary loss of land if the review leads to changes that would allow government to unilaterally claim land in the name of expropriation.
Possible conflation of land and general property is also a concern.
Banks and financial institutions, meanwhile, are concerned about what will happen to if their clients default on property loans.
With its history as an advanced and sophisticated economy on the continent, SA has a great deal of exposure to the Western economy, whose political elite have already reacted to the motion with concern.
The fear is that full scale land grabs would wreak untold damage on an already vulnerable and underperforming South African economy.
The international investor community is sure to want their investments in SA protected. While investors are not yet too alarmed by comparisons to Zimbabwe’s land grabs, some in the international community ate preparing for the worst.