Earlier this year, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) effectively declared war on farm owners.
In its “Final Document for the ANC Youth League 24th National Congress”, Clause 31 states: “With balance of forces having shifted in favour of the forces of change, the ANC carries a responsibility and an obligation to move more decisively towards all Freedom Charter objectives. This can only happen through enabling the state to expropriate private property, particularly land and mines without compensation for redistribution purposes.”
Clause 34 states: “The Constitution says that public interest includes the nation’s commitment to land reform and to reform to bring about equitable access to all South Africa’s natural resources, and property refers to all South Africa’s natural resources. These, the state should expropriate strategic sectors of the economy (sic) without compensation because paying all key and strategic resources stolen from the black majority and Africans in particular will take more than a lifetime to realise.”
The problem I have with the above is the use of the word “stolen”. My parents bought a farm in the Cape in 1981. My father had been a businessperson all his life and had started earning money (and paying tax) in 1955. Thus, he worked for 26 years before he had enough money to buy a farm.
Fortunately, our Constitution has guarantees against landowners being dispossessed of their land without compensation. Sub-Section 25(2) provides that: “Property may be expropriated only in terms of law of general application – a) For a public purpose and in the public interest; and b) Subject to compensation, the amount of which and the time and manner of payment of which have been either agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court.”
As long as the Constitution survives in its present form, the rights of landowners are secure, at least as far as dispossession without fair compensation is concerned. However, the ANCYL document referred to above contains further alarming utterances. Section 25 of the Constitution is referred to as the “property clause”.
Clause 35 makes it plain that: “Amendment of the property clause to empower the state to expropriate for public purpose and in the public interest is therefore vital for this particular purpose.” The popularity of the ANCYL is such that a constitutional change might not be far-fetched. I urge all property owners to find and read the document.
While the blame for SA’s ills are placed at the door of a certain segment of the population, which is tired of being portrayed this way, no mention is made of the fact that tax paying South Africans contributed to the building of the nation. Nor is there any acknowledgment that development of the country was undertaken by said embattled segment.
Know your rights!
Peter O’Halloran is head of tax at BDO, Gaborone. Call 00267 390 2779 or email [email protected] with the heading “Farmer’s Weekly tax issues”.