Letter: A step closer to expropriation without compensation - Businesslive

Sep 06, 2022
6 September 2022 - Next week the parliamentary portfolio committee on public works & infrastructure will vote on the text of the Expropriation Bill.

Next week the parliamentary portfolio committee on public works & infrastructure will vote on the text of the Expropriation Bill.

The Institute of Race Relations has steadily argued that, if enacted, this piece of legislation will put a troubling degree of power in the hands of the state. Its definition of “expropriation” has been crafted so that one may be deprived of one’s property without this being recognised as expropriation, and thus not subject to compensation.

It also proposes a process for expropriation that could be (and perhaps is likely to be) used coercively to ensure that property holders accept compensation at a level and on conditions that the state deems appropriate.

More than this, it explicitly makes provision for the payment of “nil” compensation under certain conditions. Among these is that the owner “has abandoned the land by failing to exercise control over it”. This raises disturbing questions as to how this might be applied in the wake of land invasions, since the state has often been indifferent towards or ineffective in acting against them.

In addition, this expanded latitude to take property will be vested in the state that we have, and the grounds for concern should be clear. Incidentally, the socio-economic impact assessment dismissed fears of abuse by saying that “there are sufficient checks and balances in both government policy and different legislations [sic] to keep the issue in check”. It’s hard to take this seriously.

The upshot is that the push for expropriation without compensation continues, albeit without the fanfare of last year’s attempted constitutional amendment. President Cyril Ramaphosa has said publicly that expropriation without compensation is something his party and government “must utilise”. Next week could see this agenda advanced to the detriment of us all.

Terence Corrigan
Institute of Race Relations


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