Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

Just how much po­lit­i­cal heat is the ANC feel­ing ahead of the poll on 7 May? A sig­nif­i­cant amount, ac­cord­ing to re­search by the South African In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions (IRR), which main­tains that the coun­try is tee­ing it­self up for a Zim­babwe-style land grab and, to ma k e mat t e r s worse, s ay s it s CEO, the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion is com­plicit. It’s easy to dis­miss the claims as fan­ci­ful. Land rights are con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected, be­sides which, an eco­nom­i­cally pru­dent rul­ing party could not fea­si­bly con­tem­plate poli­cies that would be de­struc­tive to al­ready del­i­cate for­eign in­vestor sen­ti­ment.

“No­body thought so in Zim­babwe ei­ther,” says Frans Cronjé, CEO of the think tank that has pub­lished a con­tro­ver­sial as­sess­ment of two pieces of pend­ing leg­is­la­tion it ar­gues could be as de­struc­tive to ru­ral South Africa as Lord Kitch­ener’s scorched earth pol­icy was dur­ing the South African War at the dawn of the last century.

“It could re­sult in the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of commercial farm­ing op­er­a­tions with zero com­pen­sa­tion,” cau­tions the IRR. The first of these is the Resti­tu­tion of Land Rights Amend­ment Bill of 2013 (the Resti­tu­tion Bill). The aim of the leg­is­la­tion is to open a new f ive-year win­dow dur­ing which land claims can

Frans Cronjé

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