Agbiz reiterated its position on protecting property rights in the ongoing national debate about the government's plans to expropriate land. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The association of agribusinesses operating in South and southern Africa, Agbiz, on Monday reiterated its position on protecting property rights in the ongoing national debate about the government's plans to expropriate land without compensation.

Parliament is this week likely to adopt a report by a constitutional review committee recommending the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation, a move critics say will hurt agriculture.

The government says land ownership in South Africa remains skewed in favour of whites whose ancestors forced black people off their land centuries ago.

On Monday, Agbiz said the greatest failure of land reform in the country had been the inability of the government to extend property rights to previously disadvantaged individuals, especially those with tenuous tenure security in communal areas and human settlements.

"Orderly, predictable and market-based land reform, within the ambit of the current Constitution of South Africa, is essential to ensure tenure security, business confidence and to maintain the integrity of the agro-food system of South Africa," it argued.

CEO John Purchase said Agbiz would continue to engage the government constructively to ensure that any proposed amendments to the Constitution, as well as potential amendments to the Expropriation Bill and other legislation on expropriation without compensation, would not harm the economy and the sector specifically.

"If need be, Agbiz reserves its right to challenge such amendments that may negatively impact on the sector if and when the process merits a challenge," he said.

He acknowledged that South Africa needed to do more to sustainably establish far more black farmers and entrepreneurs in primary agriculture and agribusiness "and thereby ensure inclusive growth at a significant scale".

 Last week the high court in Cape Town dismissed a bid by lobby group Afriforum to block the table of the land expropriation report in parliament.

- African News Agency (ANA)