The civil rights organisation AfriForum today launched a campaign to involve the public in taking a stand against the Draft Bill on Expropriation after Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Public Works, published the Draft Bill in the Government Gazette on 21 December 2018 and invited the public to comment within sixty days. The campaign is driven through the websites www.expropriation.co.za (for English) or www.onteiening.co.za (for Afrikaans).

According to Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, there is a series of fundamental flaws in the Draft Bill and it is imperative that the public joins the fight to protect property rights. In its submission, AfriForum stated that comment should be based on two levels. “There is a series of flaws in the finer details of the Draft Bill, which we point out in our submission. One example is the vague definition of ‘public interest’, which makes it possible for the ANC to view its political agenda as in the public’s interest. However, we should not get entangled in the details of the Draft Bill, because the most significant problems are not in the detail, but in the ruling party’s broad ideological points of departure, its racist agenda, and its advocacy of a twisted image of South Africa’s history and healthy economic principles,” Roets argues.

AfriForum’s comment on the Draft Bill is therefore divided into micro and macro issues.

The following macro issues are highlighted:

1.      The Draft Bill should be viewed within the context of the ANC’s national democratic revolution, in terms of which the ANC states in its own policy documents that it intends to vest as much power as possible in the state. It is for example worth mentioning that the Draft Bill does not make provision for property that was expropriated by the state to be transferred back into private ownership.

2.      The destructive economic policy advocated by the Draft Bill. The Draft Bill makes it possible for the state to tamper in a drastic manner with the basic principles that serve as prerequisites for economic advancement.

3.      The hero-worshipping that the ruling party has for dictators who have destroyed their respective economies through the expropriation of private property. The ANC still abides by the statement that dictators the likes of Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe should be venerated as heroes, precisely because of their revolutionary ideas. The reasonable question that is still to be answered, is what incentive there is for the ruling party not to imitate the destructive actions of their heroes, if they are in fact considered heroes because of these destructive actions.

4.      The government’s track record in terms of corruption and maladministration leads every reasonable person to the conclusion that government cannot be trusted to manage an explosive matter such as expropriation in a responsible manner.

5.      It is clear from the political debates aimed at motivating this Draft Bill that the ruling party and its alliance partners support a grossly racist motif. President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the land must be given to “our people” and uses that term to specifically refer to black people. Deputy President David Mabuza threatened with a violent take-over if white people would not freely hand over their property to black people, and Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said that no black person’s property would be targeted for expropriation.

6.      The Draft Bill is motivated by a distorted version of South Africa’s history. It is true that expropriation happened – not only to black people, but to white people too. What is not being said, is that people have already been compensated in many of these cases (which neutralises the need for expropriation without compensation), and that these expropriations had occurred in specific places and that only specific people had been affected by it. These places and people can be identified easily. The Draft Bill is however motivated by the distorted view that all black people were expropriated by all white people across the whole of South Africa.

7.      The Draft Bill leaves a lot of room for ambiguous interpretations of the text and contains many loopholes that could be exploited by corrupt state officials. The fact that the Mothlanthe Commission found that corruption is one of greatest stumbling blocks in terms of land reform is being ignored completely by the compilers of the Draft Bill.

8.      The Draft Bill is premature, as there still is a process according to which the public can still give their input on expropriation without compensation. Although the public participation process has mostly been finalised, there remains a dispute over the manner in which the public’s inputs were processed.

9.      It is evident that the compilers of the Draft Bill took no notice of the opinion polls by various research institutions, which time and again found that the great majority of the public are not in favour of expropriation without compensation and do not view it as the most burning issue in South Africa. The focus should rather be on job creation and the relief of poverty. Ironically enough, this can only be achieved by doing the opposite of what government is doing – property rights should be protected, and the market deregulated.

10.   The ruling party’s continued drive to make expropriation without compensation possible will change the positioning and image of the ruling party across the world from that of a liberator into that of an oppressor.

These reasons, as well comment on the detail of the Draft Bill, have already been submitted to the Office of the Director-General for Public Works. AfriForum encourages the media to support the campaign against expropriation without compensation by adding their voice to the campaign. This can be done by visiting the website www.expropriation.co.za.