South Africa moves ahead with land expropriation without compensation

Public hearings on the draft bill to allow for land expropriation without compensation in South Africa will resume later this month, a parliamentary committee decided on Thursday (8 October).

The committee was first established on 25 July 2019 to clarify parts of the Constitution that allow for the expropriation of land without compensation as a legitimate option for land reform to address the historic arbitrary land dispossession of the majority of South Africans.

However, the outbreak of the coronavirus affected the committee’s programme, and it has now been re-established to complete its work.

The committee had previously been given until 31 December 2020 as the deadline by which to report back to the house.

Government published its draft land expropriation bill for public comment in December 2019. President Cyril Ramaphosa has previously said that South Africa must finalise its land expropriation policy in 2020.

“This year we are going to have to finalise the legislation and the constitutional construct on the land question,” he said at a conference in January.

“One of the things we have been asking for is the business community to come forward with solutions of resolving the centuries-old problem of land,” he told the country’s largest business lobby group. “I would like to see the business community taking this issue up rather more seriously.”

However, the opposition Democratic Alliance has warned that South Africa cannot afford the financial fallout of allowing land exploration without compensation.

“The truth is that nothing dissuades investors like a threat to the security of their assets, regardless of how innocuously it is couched. Local and foreign investors will think twice before investing in South Africa,” said DA MP Annelie Lotriet in June.

“The last thing South Africa can afford now, amid a pandemic and an economic crisis that has been in the making for 26 years and exacerbated by the lockdown, is a focus on expropriation without compensation.

“Jobs are being lost, businesses are closing down, farm attacks are escalating and the state’s supposed safety net such as SASSA and the UIF are letting desperate citizens down.”

Read: Inside one of South Africa’s oldest casinos – The Carousel – which has shut down and is up for sale

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South Africa moves ahead with land expropriation without compensation