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The Ad Hoc Group for the Protection of Property Rights has taken note of ANC Secretary-General Jessie Duarte’s remarks on Monday, on Expropriation without Compensation at a media conference. During the interview, she elaborated on the ideological fiction that expropriation without compensation (EWC) is at the heart of economic development.
This position flies directly in the face of a finding by the Institute of Race Relations that expropriation threatens “the property rights of all South Africans: from the 9.5 million people with homeownership to the approximately 18 million with customary law plots and the estimated 17 million who are members of pension funds. It would also harm all business owners, large and small. At the same time, the economic consequences of the Bill would further harm the 11 million individuals who are currently unemployed, by reducing investment, limiting growth and hampering post-lockdown recovery.”
How out of step Jessie Duarte’s outdated ideological thinking is, and how wide the factional divide, can be seen in Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s speech yesterday in which he expressed, among other things, a very important economic perspective by saying: “Ultimately, the point we are making is that industrial development is critical for our aspirations, as a nation, for higher levels of economic growth, job creation, transformation, and development. Structural transformation also has development implications, in that it contributes to promoting and maintaining a competitive economic environment that helps firms to grow and produce profitably. We are of the view that government expenditure should complement and enable rather than substitute for production in the private economy.”
In our view, the insistence on expropriation without compensation forms part of persistent efforts by the state to expropriate property and not just land – and we believe it is a thinly veiled attempt to nationalise private property.
Jessie Duarte wants to nationalise yet still wants a state that drives the economy. Minister Godongwane is closer to the economic reality required, namely that the state should merely create the proper climate for the economy to grow in. The constitutional amendment process as well as the Department of Public Works’ proposed expropriation act do not take into account the realities or public opinion, which has pointed out all the consequences of irreparable economic damage. It is already clear that it is no longer about economic development but rather about factional fighting, populism and ideology.
Quite apart from being ideologically flawed, the land reform process is already riddled with corruption, failure, self-enrichment and ineptitude as it is. It is outrageous to trust the government with this and allow it to continue to hold the country hostage.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwane’s views may be indicative of a new cast of mind in the ANC and government that provides room to dust off past proposals by civil society, organised agriculture and other role players and pursue new possibilities that will enhance economic growth in South Africa. Expropriation without compensation cannot be a prerequisite for this, though.
- The Ad Hoc Group for the Protection of Property Rights is an informal grouping of organisations, organised agriculture and agricultural representatives, civil and civil rights institutions, opposition parties, academics and religious institutions. The Ad Hoc Group for the Protection of Property Rights accommodates diverse groupings and viewpoints across the spectrum.
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