Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA), initiated a process to build consensus and achieve convergence with civil society organisations concerned about the ongoing push by the ANC/EFF coalition to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of property without compensation.
In a joint press conference held in Cape Town and chaired by the DA’s Dr Ivan Meyer, represented organisations comprising the Free Market Foundation (FMF) and Sakeliga laid bare the disastrous implications that the Bill will have on the rule of law, right to own property and the economy should it be passed into law.
The full briefing document can be accessed here.
The emergent theme from the presentations that were given was that the Bill poses an existential threat to South Africa’s constitutional democracy and should never have been brought to Parliament in the first place.
In the past few weeks, the country has watched in dismay as the ANC/EFF coalition has made it clear that not only do they want to deny South Africans the right to own property, their ultimate goal is to nationalise all land in the country and exclude the courts from adjudicating on land expropriation cases.
It is an unprecedented assault on our Bill of Rights which guarantees every citizen’s right to property ownership and administrative justice.
The DA warned that the ANC/EFF bid to place land under the custodianship of the State will effectively “nationalise” the land under the control of the State – a disastrous move that will lead to economic devastation and escalating poverty, as it has already done in countries as diverse as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Sakeliga pointed out that the government’s intentions, expressed through the Bill, are the ‘confiscation’ or seizing of property without being required to provide compensation. Sakeliga went on to add that ‘confiscation’ was incompatible with constitutionalism. Their view was that ‘the protection of private property rights is a necessary precondition for a citizenry that is not dependent upon government favour. It is also necessary to provide the material basis upon which an independent civil society exists.’
The FMF also cautioned against the amendment stating that it will not achieve rule-of-law based restitution and land reform. FMF explained that such an amendment will discourage security of tenure, cast doubt on property rights and dissuade both local and foreign investment.
Dr Meyer then made the point that the success of land reform projects in the DA-run Western Cape has shown that no constitutional amendment is necessary for substantive land reform. Providing ongoing support to farmers, eliminating corruption and leveraging support from the private sector were key drivers in achieving successful land reform. In comparison, the national land administration system is in shambles to a point where the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is constantly engaged in endless litigation with frustrated communities who feel hard done by the Department’s incompetence.
If the ANC pushes through with this amendment, the DA warned, the party will not hesitate to take the fight to court, including presenting our case to the international community. Land reform failure in South Africa has not been triggered by a Constitutional failure, but it most certainly has been a glaring governance failure.
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