Business Leadership SA (BLSA) and the Free Market Foundation (FMF) say government’s rhetoric about land reform must match its actual intentions, otherwise the public is being deceived. They also believe that “the draft Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill, 2019, is problematic in its intentions and unconstitutional in its effect”.
BLSA and the FMF participated in a webinar on Wednesday on expropriation without compensation. “Blaming the Constitution for government failure to act on land reform is absurd and yet this is exactly what the Section 25 Amendment Bill is doing,” Busi Mavuso, CEO of BLSA said.
The ad hoc committee was criticised because it stated that the financial consequences of adopting the Amendment Bill will be “none” for the State and did not publish a socio-economic impact assessment (SEIA).
Martin van Staden, head of legal (policy and research) at the FMF, said the preamble to the Amendment Bill emphasises the fundamental importance of property ownership, but the amendment itself undermines the institution of ownership.
“The requirement to pay compensation when property is expropriated is an essential safeguard for the human dignity, economic interests, and personal liberty of property owners. If this is removed, security of ownership is lost and with it foreign and local investment confidence. As a democratic nation founded on the rule of law, we should strengthen ownership, not weaken it.”
According to Temba A Nolutshungu, FMF director, “The country risks repeating the mistakes of the past – and is not alleviating any economic problems. Expropriation without compensation is unheard of among the open and democratic societies around the world and every country that has attempted this, has become a poor, repressive society.”
Van Staden emphasised that the Constitution already makes ample provision for substantive land reform.
“Amending the Bill of Rights to satisfy a current political agenda sets a dangerous precedent for future generations. The notion of expropriation without compensation offends the doctrine of constitutionalism.”