The Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) on Thursday said it was concerned by the African National Congress' (ANC's) resolution to start the process of amending the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
The ANC announced the move at the just ended 54th National Conference, where Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, emerged as party leader replacing President Jacob Zuma.
Outgoing ANC economic transformation subcommittee head, Enoch Godongwana, cited the slow pace of land redistribution as the reason the ruling party agreed to make amendments to the constitution and Land Restitution Act to pave the way for the state to expropriate land without compensation.
Presently, the constitution says the state may acquire land for public purposes, but the seller must be compensated at a market-related price for the land.
Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase noted the chamber was disappointed and deeply concerned by the resolution adopted by the ANC elective conference to amend the constitution of South Africa to effect land expropriation without compensation, albeit subject to certain caveats and conditions regarding sustainability”.
“The negative impact on commercial farmers, the finance and agribusiness sectors, food security and the economy of the country as a whole would potentially be catastrophic, while the resolution will undermine property rights, investment into the broader sector and the proper functioning of the land market.”
Purchase said there are far better ways of achieving accelerated land reform with less risk to investors, or to loss of business confidence in the sector, and that these proposed models should be meaningfully tested and implemented.
“The perceived slow pace of land reform is primarily due to poor programme design and implementation.”
The Agbiz CEO said a high-level panel chaired by former Deputy President Kgalema Mothlante found that budgetary constraints were not the biggest obstacle to achieving meaningful and sustainable land reform.
Purchase warned that such an amendment to the constitution will not resolve the real challenges hampering land reform in our country.
“With regard to today’s resolution and certain clarification comments on the matter at the ANC fonference, Agbiz will await the details of the proposed plan and consider the outcomes of future engagements with the ANC and other stakeholders.
Purchase said Agbiz welcomes the call to further engagement on this highly contentious issue and on the sustainability test that will need to be investigated and thoroughly researched to ensure evidence-based policy formulation.
“This approach would be in line with that adopted in the recently released Report on Key Legislation by the High Level Panel. Agbiz also welcomes the call that no illegal occupation of land will be tolerated,” said Purchase.