Fear is festering on uncertainty around land expropriation

A scenic view of the plains of the Karoo near Victoria West. Picture: Gallo Images / GO! / Jac Kritzinger)

There has been no concrete move by government to detail how the process will work and what classes of property will be targeted first.

Was that list genuine? That’s the question swirling around after AfriForum released a supposed government document earmarking more than 130 farms as the first targets in the campaign for land expropriation with compensation.

The Transvaal Agricultural Union urged its members to “resist” any efforts to take their farms … whatever “resist” means. Some whose properties are said to be on the list have vowed to burn down everything on them rather than hand them over.

AgriSA, on the other hand, has rubbished the authenticity of the list, accusing AfriForum of being irresponsible and spreading fear by publishing it.

Even Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha was prompted to join the melee by urging farmers in his province to stay calm.

It is easy to focus on the list and its veracity (or otherwise) and point to that as being the catalyst for the rising social temperature on land dispossession. However, anger is bound to be the result of the deep uncertainty which has been created by government on the whole question of land redistribution.

Even while hearings on land were still under way, President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared to undermine that process by announcing that expropriation without compensation would go ahead. Later, ANC officials confirmed there was a list of 139 properties identified.

There has been no concrete move by government, or the governing ANC, to detail exactly how the expropriation process will work and what classes of property will be targeted first. There has also been no move to allay fears among ordinary people that expropriation will only apply to rural land and not to houses in towns and cities – or even other assets.

The result has been a lack of confidence in the property market and widespread fear.

Please tell us what you want, Mr President.

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