Letter: EWC a profound threat to SA - Daily News

4 February 2021 - The Expropriation Bill is a key element of the drive for expropriation without compensation EWC by the government and the ANC, along with its allies on the matter, the EFF.

The Expropriation Bill is a key element of the drive for expropriation without compensation EWC by the government and the ANC, along with its allies on the matter, the EFF.

As the window for comment on this piece of legislation is rapidly closing, South Africa would do well to note its implications. Understand that the Bill is not just about "land", still less just about "farmland". It covers all assets that the state might have an interest in.

Proponents of the Bill have argued that it will provide "certainty" to individuals and investors, and extend the protection of the courts to them. This is an optimistic reading. The Bill proposes a process loaded in favour of the state.

By following a set of prescribed procedures, the state will be in a position to take property on terms favourable to itself. Aggrieved people are permitted access to the courts, but the Bill makes it possible for the state to take possession of the property even where challenges are unresolved. In practical terms, it will be very tough for most people to fight a court case after their property has been lost, with all the associated losses.

Contrary to some of the commentary on the matter, the Bill does not specify a comprehensive set of circumstances under which expropriation at nil compensation will apply. It sets out some examples, while stating that EWC is "not limited" to these.

Besides, even where compensation is offered, the Bill effectively gives the state the muscle to take what it wants at a considerable discount to take from the people to give to the powerful. This is all a profound threat to South Africa's economic prospects, all the more so since it will be wielded by a state that has not shown itself to be a model of probity indeed, one that is frequently dysfunctional, fiscally stressed and fuelled by patronage.

We cannot hand control over everything we own to politicians who have proved themselves to be unscrupulous. Complacency is the most dangerous enemy here. South Africans need to stand up and object; comments on the Bill close on February 10. What the country does or fails to do now could have consequences for years to come.

Terence Corrigan, Institute of Race Relations

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