‘We don't just want land, we want property too’
Constitutional review committee hears radical plan to seize ownership of both urban and rural properties
South Africa does not only need the Land Expropriation Bill but also needs a property expropriation bill to enable the state to expropriate both land and property.
This is the proposal of political analyst Lukhona Mnguni in his written submission to the Joint Constitutional Review Committee on Section 25 of the Constitution dealing with property and land expropriation.
“There are CBDs with buildings that have been derelict for decades, with owners missing in action, much to the detriment of the cities. This renders our cities unsafe and incorrigible elements take over some of these buildings. Surely, in such instances, the city councils must have legislative authority to expropriate such buildings, especially those that are in arrears on their rates,” says Mnguni.He says property ownership must carry a developmental commitment to ensuring the property contributes to both economic activity and ensuring safe environments, especially in built-up areas.
“The need then for a property expropriation bill envisages a situation wherein more than just land is at stake. The farms must be treated as properties that have benefited in their entirety from an unjust system of land dispossession and agricultural incentives for their development,” says Mnguni.
Section 25 of the Constitution states, among other provisions, that property may be expropriated only in terms of law of general application, for a public purpose or in the public interest and “subject to compensation. The amount, the time and manner of payment have either been agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court.”Mnguni has also blamed the ANC for being “highly inefficient” in administering land reform. “Land claims still suffer a massive backlog, whether for restitution or land tenure security.”In his submission, Mnguni said the discussion on Section 25 is not about threatening food security and agricultural sector productivity “unless those who are holders of agricultural land and businesses are unwilling to be part of the conversation and solution”.
He said the land issue should have been resolved during the Codesa negotiations. “Here we are now in 2018. The land question must be approached in both historic and futuristic terms. We want to see redress for past brutal injustices. For this to happen we must do both land restitution and land reform in tandem.Mnguni says land reform has suffered a massive blow due to a number of things over the past 24 years which include:
Inefficient administrative capacity and capability;
Underfunded government departments to conduct land reform;
Unjustifiably exorbitant land and property values; and
Corruption in the land reform process on all fronts.
Mnguni has proposed a target of 40% ownership of farms to be owned in a trust held jointly by those families that have built the wealth of farmers while they were locked in intergenerational poverty and destitution.
“We cannot be scared off by people finding refuge in a possible exodus of farmers. Surely, our fathers, aunts and relatives that live in farms will be enthusiastic at the opportunity to take over those farms and make them profitable.
“While the reaction of the market must be kept within the radar of the joint standing committee, it cannot be the only matter of importance. Future social stability of the country is much more important and this discussion on land and property broadly must be cognisant of that.”..