Land expropriation has been on everyone’s lips lately. President Cryil Ramaphosa’s proclamation that things will be done in an orderly manner has done little to appease nervous South Africans.
According to Chris Hattingh, Researcher at the Free Market Foundation: “No other rights are possible without property rights. As interconnected as our world has become, it is the responsibility of each person to own his life, to use his mind and reason to live his life as he deems best. It is impossible for anyone to do this if he is not secure in his property.”
The issue of land goes much deeper, then, than the plot your house is built on.
With a strong voice emerging from the likes of the EFF, it would be normal to be nervous. What will happen to the economy if people pack up and emigrate to our seemingly willing neighbours in Australia? And for those of us who choose to stay: what will we be staying to see?
One thing that’s certain, is that the right to own property is a vital part of the economy. If there is no security in your property rights, why would you invest in property? And should we still be looking at South African property at all?
There are many questions surrounding rights and land and safety. There are countless opinions flying around, and there are many people who are genuinely angry or afraid.
In a recent discussion in Parliament, Aninka Claassens, director of the Land and Accountability Research Centre at the University of Cape Town, told the portfolio’s committee on land reform and rural development that “We have created expectations that can’t be met.” Citing recent figures, Claassens explained that, at the current rate of processing claims, it would take more than 700 years to complete the land restitution process.
Steven Friedman, professor of political studies at the University of Johannesburg, explains that “Like all South African crises, this one will end in a compromise – its details have been discussed by lawyers and reported by newspapers. It seems likely that Section 25 will be changed to allow for expropriation without compensation. But the clause will specify very clearly that this can only happen in very particular circumstances, which it will carefully define.”
So: Is now the time to pack up and run? Or will things settle down and settle?
For this answer and more information on the questions surrounding land, look out for the April edition of Real Estate Investor Magazine.