By Iavan Pijoos for News24
On Friday last week, lobby group AfriForum posted on its website that it had “obtained a list of farms identified” for expropriation. This can seen here.
It claimed it was being circulated within the rural development department.
AfriForum encouraged farmers to check if their farms were on the list and to contact the organisation so that they could “prepare for a joint legal strategy”.
Analysts at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) believe that a list said to contain the names of farms that are to be targeted for land expropriation without compensation is “legitimate”.
“While we note the statement by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform that ‘there is no truth to this document, the IRR, whose analysts have had sight of the list, has every reason to believe it is legitimate,” campaign manager Terence Corrigan said on Tuesday.
Corrigan said government had decided to start farm seizures before public comment and parliamentary processes were concluded.
“This is at odds – as the IRR has long warned – with assurances made by ruling party and government leaders that only unproductive land will be seized.
“The IRR has long cautioned that undermining property rights will have catastrophic economic and social ramifications,” Corrigan said.
List disputed by government
The department has disputed that a such a list exists.
Earlier this month, City Press reported that the ANC had identified 139 farms to be expropriated without compensation in the coming weeks, to test section 25 of the Constitution.
The list, shared by AfriForum, contained the names of 195 farms.
AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets said the list came from a “confidential source”.
Farmers ‘worried’ about exposure
Agri SA president Dan Kriek said AfriForum’s publishing of this list was “grossly irresponsible” as it had itself acknowledged that its legitimacy was in doubt.
“They themselves don’t know if it’s valid or not,” Kriek said.
Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Kriek said that two farmers whose farms were on the list had contacted him.
“By the way, some of those farmers were extremely agitated that they have now been exposed,” Kriek said.
He said the farmers were “extremely worried about the name of their farm [appearing] on a list”.
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.
Controversial advisor to finance minister Malusi Gigaba, Professor Chris Malikane, has warned South Africans to be “prepared for the worst” for radical economic transformation to succeed in South Africa, according to a report by the City Press.
Speaking at a Blacks in Dialogue event in Johannesburg on Saturday evening, Malikane was frank about the reality of radical economic transformation – but doubled down on his support of it, calling for changes to the Constitution and the nationalisation of major sectors of the economy.
Malikane said that a radical economic transformation policy would plunge the country into a crisis, based on what happened in Venezuela, India and Zimbabwe – where similar strategies were introduced – and that people needed to prepare themselves for that eventuality.
“If we are real about transformation, we need to be real and strengthen our people ideologically and politically. We need to organise and educate our people. Did you think to transform is going to be nice?” he asked.
“We need a two-thirds majority to change the Constitution. Otherwise, to achieve what we want to achieve, we need to go that route [take up arms]. Let’s try two-thirds. I don’t like war,” Malikane said.
Earlier this month the national treasury was forced to put out a number of fires after Malikane published an article advocating, among other things, the nationalisation of banks.
In an opinion piece published in the Sunday Times, Malikane said he was in favour of government taking over the banks, mines and insurance companies.
National Treasury said in an explanatory statement that the views expressed in the opinion piece were not necessarily government policy. “Professor Malikane is within his rights as an academic and an activist to contribute ideas to national discourse on any subject.
“Minister Malusi Gigaba wishes to place on record that the work of the Ministry of Finance will continue to be guided by policies of the ANC, as articulated in conference resolutions and in the 2014 election manifesto.”
The disconnect between the finance minister and his adviser has caused concern amongst financial analysts, opposition parties and civil groups, who have noted that such a drastic difference in policies reflected poorly on a country which was facing extreme economic volatility.