To protect your property rights and SA’s economy, we must win the fight against the Expropriation Bill! #KillTheBill #StopEWC

You only have until 10 February to give your input on the Expropriation Bill of 2020. Stand with us and with all South Africans who want to protect property rights!

Fill in the form below to say ‘No!’ to the Expropriation Bill by endorsing the IRR’s submission to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

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Even without the EWC constitutional amendment bill, the Expropriation Bill (the Bill) will allow property of many kinds – not only land – to be confiscated by municipalities and other organs of state for no or inadequate compensation.

According to the Bill, ‘it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid’ for expropriated land which:

  • is unused but is being held in the hope of it’s appreciating in value over time;
  • has been ‘abandoned by failing to exercise control over it’;
  • poses a ‘health, safety, or physical risk’ to others;
  • is worth less than the state subsidies from which it has benefited; or
  • is owned by a state-owned entity which is not using it and consents to the expropriation.

This list is intended to reassure South Africans that EWC will be sparingly used and justifiably applied. However, the circumstances in which ‘nil’ compensation may be paid for land are expressly ‘not limited’ to those set out in the Bill. They may thus extend far beyond this list.

The Bill also empowers all municipalities – along with various other state entities at higher levels of government – to expropriate land and other property by following a set of specified procedures. These procedures are heavily skewed against the owner and in favour of the government. For example, a municipality is obliged to consider any representations received opposed to expropriation, but it need not respond to them or give reasons for rejecting them.

Enormous ramifications

The Bill has enormous ramifications for the 1 million white and 8.7 million black South Africans who own houses, as well as for the roughly 17 million black people with informal rights to plots held in customary tenure. All these individuals will be vulnerable to expropriation by a state that is cash-strapped with little to no options for remedy.

Often even the limited safeguards set out in the Bill may not be fulfilled in practice. In the Groutville area of KwaZulu-Natal, for instance, the 3 000 or so hectares of land that Bheki Dlamini had inherited from his great-grandfather – and to which he had finally obtained the title deeds in 2002 – were expropriated in March 2013 by the KwaDukuza Local Municipality in return for R117 000 in compensation, which was offered but not paid. (Mr Dlamini claimed his house alone was worth R550 000 – while a much smaller 240 ha farm is currently on sale in nearby Stanger for R16m, though its value may not be fully comparable.)

The municipality’s confiscation of Mr. Dlamini’s land, that his family had owned for generations, is but one example of how the Expropriation Bill will be implemented in practice.

The government claims that this Bill will address the injustices of the past. In fact, the Bill is a draconian measure that can be used to strip millions of South Africans of their homes and other assets without the prior court orders, fair procedures, or equitable compensation that the Constitution requires.

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