Looters show SA’s EWC future

20 July 2021 - The violent disturbances of the past week gave South Africans an inkling of what awaits them if legislation enabling the government to expropriate land and improvements thereon without compensation is passed.

The violent disturbances of the past week gave South Africans an inkling of what awaits them if legislation enabling the government to expropriate land and improvements thereon without compensation is passed.

Just as looters swarmed out across towns in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, breaking into shops and warehouses, stealing goods and setting fires, so too will the state’s envisaged powers of dispossession result in citizens being deprived of their possessions without payment, this time under cover of the law.

The systematic disintegration of property rights, which are human rights, will also stoke social conflict and breed lawlessness, by giving moral cover to the notion that a person’s belongings may be taken without their consent and without compensation.

The seemingly interminable process leading to precisely that outcome marched forward again last week: on Friday 16 July, the committee tasked with making a proposal to Parliament on how the Constitution should be amended to allow for expropriation without compensation published a draft Bill for further public submissions. The Bill can be read here (https://static.pmg.org.za/191203Draft_advertised.pdf) and the deadline for submissions is 13 August 2021.

Although the public has already commented in previous stages of this process, much of that comment has been disregarded by the committee. This is not entirely surprising, as the co-chairman of the committee made it clear at the outset in 2018 that the committee had already decided that expropriation without compensation was to be introduced – underscoring the fact that the committee considers public consultation to be little more than an irksome box-ticking exercise in support of a predetermined outcome.

The IRR, along with hundreds of thousands of ordinary South Africans, made a comprehensive submission on its opposition to expropriation without compensation and the related constitutional amendment in 2018. That submission can be read here (https://irr.org.za/reports/submissions-on-proposed-legislation/irr-full-submission-to-joint-constitutional-review-committee-14-june-2018.pdf).

The draft of the Constitutional Amendment now published adds a further highly concerning feature to those already highlighted: it opens the path to “state custodianship of certain land”. Resources previously nationalised under the guise of “custodianship” include South Africa’s water rights and mineral resources. Both of these resources have been terribly mismanaged under the custodianship of the state and it is therefore all but certain that land would be similarly mismanaged.

Even more concerning, the “custodianship” approach technically amounts to the elimination of private property rights, without compensation. As such, it should be more accurately referred to as the “confiscation” or “nationalisation” of land. South Africans should be in no doubt that the Constitutional amendment proposed by the African National Congress is aimed at achieving precisely that: making legal the nationalisation of land, with all the devastating consequences this implies.

In support of its campaign to #SaveTheEconomy and protect property rights, the IRR encourages South Africans to voice their opposition to this constitutional amendment. Citizens can either submit their comments directly to the parliamentary committee or do so through a web page (https://irr.org.za/campaigns/kill-the-bill-stop-ewc) provided by the IRR for this purpose.

 

Media contacts: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns and Director of the Racism Is NOT The Problem initiative – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za 
Terence Corrigan, Project Manager, IRR Tel: 066 470 4456 Email: terence@sairr.org.za
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za
Kelebogile Leepile Tel: 079 051 0073 Email: kelebogile@irr.org.za 

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