The ANC’s irrational attempt to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation is indicative of the political problems the party is experiencing within its electorate, a thoughtless leadership that has already coxswained South Africa into an economic marshland, and of a lack of insight and awareness of the international consequences for trade, diplomatic relations and investor confidence.
There is not a single place in the world where expropriation without compensation resulted in prosperity, peace or economic growth and similarly it will not have a positive outcome in South Africa. Zimbabwe and Venezuela, the two most recent case studies, clearly showed how dramatically countries can fall apart if property rights are not respected and protected. The rhetoric is however popular with the poorest and least educated communities in deep rural communities who have nothing to lose – which explains the ruling party’s efforts to gain their votes.
Not only is the integrity of title deeds important for owners, it also a foundation for our agricultural financing system as it serves as security for loans. The right to own property is a cornerstone of the free market and is described as an inalienable right in Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights. The ANC has already managed the 107 year old Land Bank into the ground, in which the loss of confidence in property based collateral played a significant role, and is making it increasingly difficult for farmers to get access to financing, investments and growth opportunities.
Saai is especially concerned over the international implications of this dangerous venture of the ANC. From Saai’s weekly dealings with governments, embassies, agricultural unions, journalists and multinational agencies such as the EU, UN and the World Bank, it is clear that the ANC is misinterpreting the international opinion on expropriation without compensation. These entities are very well-informed on the situation in South Africa, they follow the Zondo Commission closely, and they understand the link between state capture, corruption, the implosion of parastatals and mismanagement. South Africa’s diplomatic corps is in no way prepared or equipped to present to ANC’s agenda comprehensibly and has already sacrificed the moral high ground.
The ANC has been caught out by the rest of the world that they were not entirely honest about their motives for expropriation without compensation. They now know it was not the willing seller principle that failed, but rather a hopelessly corrupt buyer. Despite the fact that the ANC is trying to sweep its own report of the Mothlanthe High-level Commission of Enquiry on Land Reform under the carpet, the report has already been widely distributed and studied. The ANC should address the real issues such as corruption, nepotism and self-enrichment by its cadres and civil servants as highlighted in the report, rather than focusing its attention on a stunt such as expropriation without compensation which will only doom South Africa to skunk-status again.
Apart from the commentary on the planned amendment of the Constitution which Saai is submitting on behalf of family farmers, a network of farmers, businesses, civil organisations, governments and embassies is also being kept informed.