Pushback against proposed property rules for South Africa

Civil rights group Afriforum will challenge new proposals by the ruling ANC which would see a shake-up of property rights in the country.

The ANC wants farmers to donate land for redistribution to emerging black farmers as part of a significant shift in land expropriation policy.

The proposal is a marked change from the party’s previous plans to amend the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation in a legal framework. Instead, it proposes that a ‘land reform and agricultural development agency’ be established.

The agency will be tasked with creating policy and processes to facilitate land donations to black farmers, and to create incentive mechanisms – such as enabling BEE recognition – for farmers who donate land or provide support to black farmers.

This agency will also establish and manage a Land Reform Fund, which the Land Bank will house, and to record and monitor progress on land transactions and advise on partners for black farmers.

“This is clearly another veiled attempt by the ANC to meddle with property rights. The chances that this agency will act in a neutral and fair manner is highly doubtful,” Afriforum said.

“The ANC’s claims that the willing buyer, willing seller model has failed is also untrue, seeing as the government has spent more than R60 billion on land reform but only an estimated 6.3% of the land purchased has been transferred to private owners. Thus it is the ANC who are unwilling distributors of the land they have hoarded.”

Afriforum said the proposed involvement of the Land Bank is also concerning, seeing as the bank has incurred losses worth billions of rands. In 2021 a report by the auditor general found that the Land Bank’s financial losses grew by 211% to R2.8 billion for the year to 31 March 2020, compared to a loss of R902 million in the previous year.

“The fact that the plan includes the allocation of BEE points to landowners who participate, again shows that the ANC is absolutely race-obsessed,” said Jacques Broodryk, Afriforum’s campaigns manager.

“Even though the ANC has tried to create the illusion that the funds for this project will be collected via donations from the private sector, the policy clearly states that fiscal grants will also be used to fund this project. So once again, it’s the taxpayer who will be footing the bill,” said Broodryk.

Read: ANC plots big land expropriation change for South Africa: report

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Pushback against proposed property rules for South Africa