Farmers cannot be held solely responsible for historical events that resulted in the dispossession of land, Annelize Crosby, head of land affairs at Agri SA, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, 24 March.
Agri SA was one of several organisations delivering oral submissions to the portfolio committee on public works and infrastructure on the proposed Expropriation Bill, which would provide for certain instances where expropriation with nil compensation could be deemed appropriate to the public interest.
Crosby said Agri SA acknowledged that the apartheid-era dispossession of land caused deep emotional wounds and hardship.
“However, today’s farmers cannot be required to bear the burden of addressing [the apartheid-era] dispossession. It needs to be done in an orderly and sustainable manner that is also fair towards the current land owners.”
She also said expropriation would not significantly speed up land reform, and would also not make land reform more affordable. “Inequity should rather be addressed through future and solution-driven conversation,” said Crosby.
Bongiwe Kunene of the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) said in her presentation that the Expropriation Bill could discourage local and international investment, and result in capital flight should investors incur losses due to expropriation at below market value.
“If we have insecure property rights and policy uncertainty, the result of that will be retarding investments and economic development, which is critical to tackling employment, poverty and inequality.”
She stressed that expropriation at nil compensation, if not done according to the confines of the Constitution and a law of general application, could create systemic risk for the South African banking system and the country alike.
In a joint presentation, Agbiz and Business Unity South Africa said that the organisations were broadly supportive of the Bill, but expressed concern about the impact which the nil compensation provision could have on investor confidence and finance.