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.”