On Tuesday U.S. News posted an article about the move to take land from South Africans without paying them any compensation. The parliament recently approved a report endorsing a constitutional amendment that would allow expropriations without compensation.
The article reports:
Land is a hot-button issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.
A parliamentary team last month recommended a constitutional amendment to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest.
The article continues:
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Jacob Zuma in February, has prioritized land redistribution as he seeks to unite the fractured ruling African National Congress (ANC) and win public support ahead of an election next year.
But the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and some rights groups are critical of the government’s plans, saying it will jeopardize property rights and scare off investors.
“We support expropriation of land without compensation or zero Rand compensation in the public interest,” the ANC’s Vincent Smith said during the parliamentary debate.
Ahead of Tuesday’s debate, John Steenhuisen, the main opposition’s chief whip, said “the DA will not hesitate to approach the courts” should the report backing the expropriation of land be adopted.
Following Tuesday’s vote, a new bill proposing the change to Section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation would need to be drafted.
It would also require the public’s contribution before a debate and vote in the assembly. To become law, it would need passed by both houses of parliament and then signed by Ramaphosa. It is unclear how long this process would take.
Last week the High Court rejected a legal challenge brought by AfriForum, a group representing mainly white Afrikaners who wanted to overturn a parliamentary committee report supporting changes to the constitution.
There are some things the South African government might want to consider if they decide to move forward with the idea of seizing land without compensation. Although that might seem like a solution to the misdeeds of the past, it is simply a misdeed in the present. Taking anything from someone without compensation is not a path toward harmony. Because the land distribution seems to be so uneven, wouldn’t it be better to require people who hold large portions of land to sell portions of it under government supervision at a reasonable price. Otherwise, you are infringing on private property rights. In December 2010, I posted an article about the relationship between private property rights, the rule of law, and prosperity. You cannot have prosperity without private property rights or without the rule of law. To seize property without compensation violates this principle. It is the way to poverty for South Africa.