Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

be lodged. It’s es­ti­mated there could be more than 375 000 of these as dis­pos­sessed South Africans seek a mech­a­nism to re­dress some of the eco­nomic wrongs of the past. The IRR is not op­posed to the prin­ci­ple of land resti­tu­tion but notes with alarm that t he cost could amount to nearly R180bn. The restit ution budget, how­ever, sits at a paltr y R3bn. Hence the con­cern that some­thing in­fin­itely more sin­is­ter is afoot.

Cronjé says that an­other piece of pend­ing leg­is­la­tion is be­ing crafted to achieve pre­cisely that. The Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion of In­vest­ment Bill makes pro­vi­sion for the State to play the role of cus­to­dian over dis­puted land. Own­er­ship would not shift, and there­fore it would not be a case of out­right ex­pro­pri­a­tion.

“The Con­sti­tu­tional Court has al­ready ruled in a case in­volv­ing min­ing rights – the de­pri­va­tion of property from an ex­ist­ing owner is not matched by the ac­qui­si­tion of that property by the State. This means that there is no ex­pro­pri­a­tion – and no right to any com­pen­sa­tion,” says Cronjé. “There is prece­dent.”

Sound fan­ci­ful? Per­haps. But Cronjé is con­cerned that the ANC is fac­ing mount­ing po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion among dis­af­fected youth who might be tempted to cast a vote for Julius Malema’s Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters. DA sup­port for re-open­ing land claims could aid the process.

“To­gether,” says Cronjé, “these two pieces of leg­is­la­tion could spell the end of pri­vate property rights in South Africa – not just in agri­cul­ture but across the econ­omy. We sug­gest that the Govern­ment and the African Na­tional Congress [ANC] may be pre­par­ing the ground to con­fis­cate pri­vate property and dis­trib­ute it to poor com­mu­ni­ties if and when they feel the need to do so. That time will come when the po­lit­i­cal pres­sure on the ANC is so great that it fears los­ing a fu­ture elec­tion.”

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