land expropriation without compensation

Photo: Terry Carew / Flickr

28 Months Later: Land expropriation in SA gets a new deadline

A Parliamentary motion on the matter of land expropriation was tabled on Thursday: We could see the first acts of redistribution within a matter of months.

land expropriation without compensation

Photo: Terry Carew / Flickr

The seismic issue of land expropriation has made global headlines. Cyril Ramaphosa calls it the “original sin”, whereas Donald Trump mistakes it for an unmitigated wave of land grabs. However, since the ANC resolved to pursue the non-compensatory model of land redistribution in December 2017, progress has been glacial.

After the motion to invoke land expropriation without compensation was passed during a session of Parliament in February 2018, it’s been difficult to chart what has been achieved in that time. Apart from successfully winding up the Australian government, land expropriation is yet to have to produce anything worthwhile.

Parliament gets the ball rolling on redistribution

But, as of this week, the tide seems to be turning. It was last Tuesday when the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza delivered her department’s budget speech for 2019 in Parliament on Tuesday, and she established the first few areas that the land expropriation programme would focus on.

Despite the speech getting a mixed reaction, and also being flagged up for failing to address the issue of property rights in South Africa – Didiza did shed some light on the project. Land claimants of District Six, the strengthening of biosecurity on farms and the need to exploit beef and fruit markets all ranked high on her list of priorities.

When will land expropriation in South Africa happen?

Fast forward nine days, and we’re back in Parliament. A draft motion by the ANC’s Chief Whip in Parliament Pemmy Majodina has been submitted, and it proposes that a new committee should be established to “initiate and introduce legislation amending section 25 of the Constitution”.

This is where the ball gets rolling on land expropriation: Majodina has established that a new ad hoc committee must lay out the terms and conditions for the policy, to be delivered by 31 March 2020.

Should the government reach this deadline, the earliest a programme of land redistribution could begin is in April 2020 – some 28 months after the resolution was first agreed upon in Nasrec. And, by the sounds of it, this group will be deciding how we approach all things redistribution:

  • It will be made up of 25 members in total.
  • Only 11 of them will be allowed to cast a final vote on the motion – in their hands, rests the fate of land expropriation in SA.
  • The other 14 will be on-hand to help word the policies and take part in establishing the rules of redistribution.
  • From this day onwards, we should have the final report with us in just over eight months. Start the countdown…

Potential hold-ups for land expropriation in South Africa

However, to assume it will be all plain sailing from this point is beyond wishful thinking. The FF+ and the DA have expressed their staunch opposition to the plans, and labelled the developments so far as “unlawful”, with the latter threatening to institute court proceedings against the government.

Even with pro-land expropriation parties, like the EFF, their support is also not guaranteed. The red berets differ from the ANC on several matters: That includes disagreements on how to manage a land bank and whether all farmland should be nationalised or not. The road ahead may be long, but for now, we finally have a sign that tells us where we’re going.