Cape Town - Several “for sale” signs have appeared on many farms in Stellenbosch, considered the heart of farming in the Western Cape, while the land-expropriation-without-compensation debate heats up in Parliament.

Deon de Swardt, a broker and owner of Re/Max Oaktree in Stellenbosch said: “More farmers are willing to sell based largely on the uncertainty that surrounds the expropriation issue. While there haven’t been too many more listings in comparison to last year, many more valuations have been requested,” he said.

“Most farm owners are not very optimistic. Some have mixed feelings about the matter and think that it’s more a political move to gain voters than anything else. The ongoing debates around this topic, combined with farm attacks, contribute towards this fear.

“This does not bode well for our economy. The problem we’re facing is many eager sellers and no willing buyers as they fear the risks are too high. When buyers sell out of a sense of anxiety or panic, they are prepared to accept offers that are below the real market value of their property.

“The more frequently this occurs, the knock-on effect is that property values for that area drop as well. What’s more, these discussions have also sent international buyers elsewhere to invest in countries that have more stable governments and economies.”

Annien Borg, Pam Golding Properties managing director in the Boland region, differed. Asked if there was a rush to sell, she said: “No, it is business as usual with farms being sold for the usual reasons, for example, in regard to a family-owned farm where the owner is reaching retirement age, and the younger generation may not want to farm.

“Where there has been a death or divorce in the family, or in instances where the owner may have purchased the farm and relocated to the area from another region and now wishes to explore other business or property interests.”

Deon Barnard, a farmer whose land near Spier has been on the market for several years, said while the surrounding farmers were not anxious, they needed certainty around the policy - a guarantee that there would be no land grabs and farmers would be paid.

Derrick Hendrickse, EFF councillor in Stellenbosch, said he had also seen am increase in farms that were up for sale near the Kayamandi area, where hundreds recently grabbed land.

Meanwhile, Parliament has warned against members of parties questioning the credibility of the report that found that most of the people in the written submissions did not want an amendment to the constitution to expropriate land without compensation.

Speaker Baleka Mbete told parties they needed to respect processes followed by Parliament to commission a company to compile a report on the submissions made.

Out of the 149000 submissions, the report found 89000 people did not want the expropriation of land without compensation.

The other 60000 people in the written submissions were in favour of the process to amend the constitution.

The report has also been questioned by the EFF.

Mbete told the programming committee they would look into the matter and would soon meet officials in the national legislature.

But she insisted that it was not correct to question the report and processes followed by Parliament.

“I agree that if aspersions are cast on the mechanism we are using, it is not good. I don’t think we should allow a process where there are pronouncements in the public,” said Mbete. ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the constitutional review committee had called on the company that compiled the report to present it in two weeks.

“That service provider will answer for itself. I am not sure that we want to engage on a matter that is in a process,” said Mthembu.

House chairperson Cedric Frolick said the report was not yet complete.

The company had finalised a preliminary report on 149000 out of 700000 written submissions. This was not a complete picture of what the final report would say, said Frolick.

He said the interim report had been submitted to the constitutional review committee after some parties insisted.

It was in that context that the report was tabled before MPs. The DA had insisted it wanted the report to be released to all members of the committee.

But the EFF said it would not allow the report to divert its attention and demanded a thorough check on the report and the company making a presentation.

The land debate has been in the public domain since the ANC took a resolution on it at its national conference in Nasrec in December.

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Weekend Argus