AfriForum Land expropriation

Marius Croucamp, Johan Steenkamp, Kallie Kriel, Leon ,Borcherds and Louis Meintje Photo via AfriForum

AfriForum on land expropriation: China gets the mineral resources, we have proof

It seems that there is some truth to AfriForum’s ‘expropriation list’ after all.

AfriForum Land expropriation

Marius Croucamp, Johan Steenkamp, Kallie Kriel, Leon ,Borcherds and Louis Meintje Photo via AfriForum

The South African civil rights organisation AfriForum has released a damning report indicating that land expropriation without compensation is a government plot aimed at handing over the country’s natural resources to China.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC), along with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), is determined to amend section 25 of the Constitution, allowing for the expropriation of land without compensation as a means to fast-track land reform.

The ANC have previously described this as ‘land affirmative action’, aimed at redressing the effects of oppressive property laws which dispossessed the majority of South Africans under white-minority rule.

The issue of land distribution is arguably the fiercest flashpoint in South Africa – with many landowners fearing that the populist rhetoric will ultimately result in the destruction of private property laws.

AfriForum has fought vehemently against the proposed motion of expropriation – embarking on international tours aimed at exposing the plight of the white farmer and gaining support in the face of minority dispossession and displacement.

The rights group now says it has solid proof of collusion between the governments of South Africa and China which aims to add another dimension to the already convoluted land expropriation debate.

AfriForum and its ‘expropriation list’

While the ANC supports a Constitutional amendment, it maintains that the Bill of Rights already allows for land expropriation without compensation. On this basis, the government decided to forge ahead with its land reform plan by embarking on a trial phase.

This trial phase focuses on 139 farms which are due to be expropriated without compensation. While the government has refused to release information relating to the targeted properties, AfriForum dropped a bombshell by releasing a list, which they say, lists farms on the government’s expropriation radar.

Upon releasing the document, which was said to have originated from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, AfriForum stated:

“We expect that many a land owner will be shocked to learn that their property has been identified for this purpose. This is exactly why it is so important that the list be shared and for people to contact us.”

The controversial list, released in August, caused widespread panic, first and foremost amongst landowners whose names appeared. AfriForum faced a backlash from a number of stakeholders, including AgriSA and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

Minister Senzeni Zokwana, representing the department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries, chimed in too, blasting AfriForum for fear-mongering, saying:

“AfriForum is so intent in stigmatising the current parliamentary process around land expropriation without compensation‚ such that the peddling of lies such as these claims of an existing list of farms to be expropriated by government is made without shame.

This latest confusion by AfriForum – following their overseas drive to mobilise negative sentiments against South Africa – is an act of sabotage. It is an act against the national interest of the country.”

AfriForum’s list holds some truth

But it would now seem that there is some truth to AfriForum’s hotly debated expropriation list.

According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, the government has moved ahead with its trial expropriation, targeting farms in Limpopo which were mentioned on the list. Kriel says:

“Despite government denying until very recently the existence of such a list, the correctness of the list is confirmed because government has already started to expropriate Akkerland’s farms at significantly lower compensation than market value.”

Akkerland Boerdery

The farms Kriel refers to belongs to Akkerland Boerdery, which are situated east of Musina in Limpopo.

It’s alleged that the two farms, Lukin and Salaita, are being expropriated by the government at 10% of the market value. It’s also alleged that Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, served Akkerland Boerdery with an ejectment order on 29 March this year

This court order gave the owners just seven days to vacate the property. Johan Steenkamp, co-owner of Akkerland Boerdery, says that this was a ploy used to circumvent legal defence, saying:

“The Minister would have known that 30 March to 2 May was a long weekend. I believe she wanted to make it difficult for us to take timeous legal steps.

This agrees with the Minister’s public statement that she did not want farmers targeted for expropriation to know this beforehand to prevent them from preparing legal action.”

Steenkamp managed to get the ejectment order repealed but is now involved in a lengthy court battle with the department:

“We fight for property rights, because the fact that government wants to pay only 10% of the market value of Akkerland Boerdery’s farms in effect means that it is busy expropriating 90% of our property without compensation.”

Land expropriation: The ANC, China and natural resources

This is where the situation involving Akkerland Boerdery get very interesting.

Akkerland, AfriForum, TAU SA, Solidarity and Agri Limpopo all say that the government is using land expropriation as a means to reach rich coal reserves hidden under Lukin and Salaita. Once the farms are expropriated, the land will be handed over to the Chinese for mining.

An official statement released by AfriForum on 3 September, reads:

“Government needs the coal reserves on the farms because the Chinese development includes among other the building of a coal-powered power station, a coal plant and various metallurgical plants.”

South Africa Energy Metallurgy Economic Zone

South African Energy and Metallurgical Special Economic Zone (EMSEZ) is a state-level energy and metallurgical special economic zone. It is a partnership programme between South Africa and China, prepared for mining and energy production.

South African Energy and Metallurgical Special Economic Zone (EMSEZ) artist impression via

According to the official website, the EMSEZ is located in Limpopo and encompasses areas surrounding Musina:

“The EMSEZ is located in the Musina-Makhado Limpopo River Bank area of Limpopo Province, South Africa. Facing with Zimbabwe and Mozambique across a river and connected with those two countries through bridge.

The reserve of surrounding large open-cast coking coal mines is over 10 billion tons, and the chromium resources in South Africa account for over 83% of total global chromium resources, while Manganese resources account for more than 81%. The region is abundant with raw material mine resources necessary for stainless steel production, including iron ore, silicon ore, nickel ore, limestone, etc.”

Musina-Makhado map via

The website also contains maps and illustrations detailing the EMSEZ. AfriForum points to both farms, due for expropriation, falling within this zone, saying:

“The organisations pointed out that Chinese government-controlled companies were planning development to the value of $10 billion in the Musina-Makhado special economic zone (SEZ), in which Akkerland falls. Exploration by the controversial Coal of Africa on Akkerland indicates that the farm’s coal is suitable for use in power stations and steel factories.”

Limpopo minerals heading to China

But it’s not just Limpopo’s coal which is said to be in China’s crosshairs; extensive infrastructure plans listed on the official website state:

“One 12,000,000t/a coal washing plant, one 3,000MW thermal power plant, one 3,000,000t/a coking plant, one 3,000,000t/a iron making plant, one 3,000,000t/a stainless steel plant, one 1,000,000t/a FeMn plant, one 3,000,000t/a FeCr plant, 500,000t/a MnSi plant and one 3,000,000t/a limestone plant are to be built in the SEZ.

Supporting government administrative service center (industrial and commerce management, customs and taxation service), living area service center (staff dormitory, apartment, hotel, shopping mall, hospital, school, etc.) as well as highway, railway and marine transportation integrated logistics center will be built in the SEZ as well.”

Marius Croucamp, Solidarity’s Deputy Chief Secretary responsible for the metal and engineering industry, maintains that steel products produced by Chinese plants near Musina will have a negative impact on the already struggling local industry:

“The steel market in South Africa and pressure on the international steel market cause the margins on which local steel companies operate to become so marginalised that any further competition in the market will force local companies to close down. This will result in thousands of South African workers losing their jobs.

Local companies that will possibly be affected include Columbus Stainless in Middelburg and Samancor, South 32. Consequently, communities around these factory towns may collapse and leave thousands of people destitute. Solidarity is also unaware of any studies done to determine the impact of the Musina SES on the current South African steel industry.”

In conclusion

AfriForum sure does make a good case for dubious dealings hiding behind the smokescreen of land expropriation without compensation. While the reach of these plans can only be speculated upon, the issue of South Africa’s debt to China is well documented.

It’s not a farfetched idea that China is aiming to loot local resources through debt colonialism. In fact, they’ve done it before in other countries under the guise of infrastructure development and generous loans.

More information on China’s operations in Limpopo can be found here:

South Africa Energy Metallurgy Economic Zone

Chinese investors plan $10bn metallurgical complex in South Africa

South Africa Energy Metallurgical Industrial Zone Brief Introduction