IRR sends MPs 11th hour plea to cut EWC provisions

13 September 2022 - Every member of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure was sent a letter today from the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) urging them on the eve of their final discussion of the Expropriation Bill to delete no-compensation provisions that pose an existential threat to all South Africans’ property rights.

Every member of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure was sent a letter today from the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) urging them on the eve of their final discussion of the Expropriation Bill to delete no-compensation provisions that pose an existential threat to all South Africans’ property rights.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 14 September) is the last chance MPs on the portfolio committee will have to remove this danger. The IRR’s letters, couriered to the MPs today, urges them to cut out expropriation without compensation (EWC) while they still can.

Since President Cyril Ramaphosa declared on July 29 that “through legislation, like the Expropriation Bill” he intended to implement expropriating property “without compensation”, the drive for EWC has been back in full swing.

Section 12(3) of the Expropriation Bill allows EWC on an open list of circumstances, meaning that people’s private property could be taken away for reasons not yet imagined. Of those circumstances listed, one is that properties purchased for the sake of resale at a profit are fit for EWC. Additionally, land over which the owner has lost “control” – conceivably, because of land invasions – would be eligible for EWC.

The IRR has gathered over half a million signatures to petitions opposing the principle of EWC. It is currently running a campaign specifically against the Expropriation Bill, which attempts to reintroduce EWC even though this is unconstitutional, and despite the failure last December of an attempt to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow such expropriation.

In 2020 the IRR commissioned independent, statistically reliable polling on a range of socio-economic issues, which included a question on whether people preferred the economy to grow in productivity and jobs, or whether EWC was preferred “to redress past wrongs?”

15% of white respondents and 15% of black respondents said they would prefer EWC. Without a concerted effort, this ideologically deranged minority will be allowed to drive the majority of South Africans into a situation already experienced by Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

The trade-off between EWC and growth is well understood by EWC’s proponents. Julius Malema said in August 2018, when arguing for it, that “death is the first price we are prepared to pay. The second price we are prepared to pay for this land is poverty. They will close taps. But if there is a conviction, and not sloganeering and public opinions, then we must be prepared for everything. It’s a war.”

By contrast, 80% of respondents of all colours said they would prefer growth to EWC. Their common interest has been conveyed to the Parliamentary Committee empowered to block EWC.

Even below-market compensation on encumbered properties could “lead to systemic consequences for the economy and the financial system as evidenced by the 2007 global financial crisis”, according to a submission opposing the Expropriation Bill by the Banking Association of South Africa. A domestic financial crisis would not affect the outside world much, but it would devastate the prospects of job seekers in South Africa, the country with the highest recorded unemployment on earth.

Since EWC is unconstitutional, some may think that there is no need to oppose it as it moves through the pipes of the legislature up to the desk of the president. However, complacency bears a terrific cost.

Since the ANC started pushing for EWC under its new leader at the end of 2017, the record of foreign and domestic investment deterrence has been well established. This will only be exacerbated as the Expropriation Bill edges forward to becoming a garden-variety law. The resultant capital flight will further exacerbate joblessness.

In addition, homes and business will be effectively robbed by the government while the court battles rage on, with many of the dispossessed unlikely to be able to fund their own causes. For the process finally to wind up in the Constitutional Court could take years and huge sums in legal fees, the state’s portion of which will be paid by ordinary taxpayers.

Rather than waste another decade, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure can cut out EWC once and for all. Most South Africans want that, and it would be to the benefit of all.

 

* Afrikaans-language media are requested to retain the acronym ‘IRR’, rather than using ‘IRV’.

Media contacts: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za

Mlondi Mdluli, IRR Campaign Manager- 071 148 2971; mlondi@irr.org.za

 

Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za

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