Ever since the African National Congress (ANC) expressed their support for land expropriation without compensation, the debate on this issue has been heavy with some fearing the detrimental effects it might have on our economy. Parliament recently passed a motion by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to review section 25 of the South African constitution and allow for land expropriation without compensation. Currently the constitution allows for expropriation with “just and equitable” compensation. The way I see it, no compensation could also fall under “just and equitable” compensation if the land owner inherited the land and did not actually pay money for it.
Even though I’m all for no compensation, I do think that circumstances differ and should thus determine wether or not land owners will be compensated. The point here is that expropriation without compensation should be an option but not the only option.
When discussing land expropriation, many argue that taking away farms could lead to less food production, loss of jobs etc. That does not have to be the case, land does not only refer to farms. The last time I went on a road trip I was almost angered by the vast amount of unused land there is in our country. So many people live in over populated townships while a few get to enjoy land that was taken away from blacks. I do not see why there should be compensation for vacant, unused land, especially if it was not paid for by its owner.
With regards to food scarcity, after all the initiatives by government and private sector to improve the farming skills of black people (and the fact that we are naturally hunter gatherers), I have faith in our farming abilities.
Some often point to how land grabs in Zimbabwe led to hyperinflation and the downfall of the country’s economy. It is important to note that the matter can and should be dealt with in a rational and orderly manner that would not destabilise our economy or leave anyone (black or white) homeless/landless.
With that said, I still do not agree with the EFF in that ALL land should be owned by the state. I think we should all be entitled to own land. Just like water, land is a vital resource. It is the source of our food. So to those who say it’s the poor who will suffer the most, it is in fact the poor who need land the most.
I think it just makes sense to share the land and develop it using the money that would have otherwise gone to enriching a few families.