Durban - A land rights advocacy group has welcomed the passing of the Expropriation Bill by the National Assembly last week, and says it wants to see its full implementation.
After its adoption by the Assembly, the bill will be sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence before it finally goes to President Cyril Ramaphosa to be signed into law.
The Bill outlines circumstances when it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid when land is expropriated.
Landless People’s Movement chairperson Msizeni Magwaza, who is a farm dweller, labelled the passing of the bill as long overdue for many people who do not enjoy land ownership.
“This is what some of us have been waiting for all our lives, and our hope is that the government will use this mandate and ensure that all of us enjoy access to land and get a chance to earn a living out of it,” said the 58-year old.
He said life as a farm dweller was difficult, adding that for many there had been little to celebrate since 1994.
“But with the passing of this law we are hopeful that we may eventually get to be owners and get to farm like our forefathers used to do before their land was forcefully taken away from them.”
South African Farmers Development Association CEO Dr Siyabonga Madlala also welcomed the progress made on the bill, saying it was an important step in the country’s land reform process.
He pointed out the development of black farmers relied on land availability.
“We are for the development of black farmers, and we know that most are struggling to access land. So we are hopeful that the passing (of the bill) will enable the government to move with greater speed in assisting those who want to make use of the land and are keen on farming,” Madlala said.
He also refuted suggestions that under the new law, the country’s food security would be compromised.
Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA executive director Nomzamo Zondo said the passing made the government more accountable for land reform.
“We have a serious problem of landlessness in this country, and this legislation places the responsibility of land reform on the government, and removes any excuses.
“We believe that the government should play a leading role in land redistribution,” said Zondo.
She said it was worrying that women made up the majority of people who were without land and urged the government to move with speed in correcting this.
However, Agri SA said the legislation had serious flaws and risked harming the agricultural sector and wider economy, citing Zimbabwe and Venezuela as examples of countries that had implemented such legislation which resulted in economic meltdowns.
Executive director at Agri SA Christo van der Rheede appealed to the NCOP to consider the flaws in the bill and the implications.
He argued that property rights are the cornerstone of economic development and Agri SA would use every tool at its disposal to ensure their continued protection under the Constitution.
“These issues will have a negative impact on our shared national commitment to building a more inclusive agricultural sector.
“It will weaken the protections afforded to private property and this could see an exodus of capital from the agricultural sector and the broader economy. The anticipated loss of jobs and investment will impact both emerging and established farmers alike,” Van der Rheede said.