The Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI) has hit out at government for its actions around the planned land expropriation bill, calling the public consultation process ‘a mockery’.
The business group said it took issue with the last-minute deadline extension for comments on the bill and the fact that the planned legislation was likely to be changed by the ruling ANC.
The current draft of the bill states that the country’s courts should be the arbiter when determining whether the state should pay for expropriated land.
However, the ANC has indicated that it does not support the idea of courts being the decision-maker on whether or not the state will pay for land it expropriates.
It instead plans to give this power to the minister of land reform who will be the sole arbiter on land expropriation cases in the country.
“The changes now proposed are outrageous on many levels,” the CCCI said in a statement on Monday (10 February).
“By this betrayal, the government will now be widely known (by those who matter in the world) that South Africa intends to join those countries that have embraced failed economic theories and made themselves destitute by doing so.
“Whatever verbal somersaults are used to justify these actions will not fool the outside world.”
The group added that a strong backlash can be expected should government ‘go ahead with blasting holes in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights’.
“Whether the reaction comes from within the country or from outside in the form of an investment boycott is the only question left,” it said.
The business body said that the right of a majority government, by one simple vote, to expropriate private property without compensation is draconian. “It will be seen as a cynical fig leaf attempting to cover blatant theft driven by ideology rather than real need,” it said.
“This is bad law, driven by emotion not rationality. It ignores economic reality. It is based on political and propagandistic misperceptions of reality, just as did that cornerstone of apartheid, the Group Areas Act.
“It will have the same tragic consequences,” the CCCI said.