Yep, South Africa Is Taking Land From White Farmers Right Now- Here’s The Reason
South Africa’s president has declared it is time to ‘correct a past wrong’ by seizing land from white farmers – and a £10million family ranch is among his first targets.
President Cyril Ramaphosa wants to take lands from white farmers without compensation and redistribute them to black farmers to make up for the injustice of apartheid.
He said at a farmers’ conference on Monday that land reform was necessary to ‘correct a past wrong.’
‘It has required that we confront the injustices of the past, acknowledge our weaknesses and shortcomings, and seek a sustainable path towards a just and inclusive future,’ Ramaphosa said.
‘This is the time for South Africans to find each other, not fight each other.’
Since the 1994 end of apartheid – a system of racial segregation – the South African ruling party has followed a ‘willing-seller, willing-buyer’ model under which the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to black farmers.
But progress has been slow and it appears Ramaphosa wants to more vigorously force the pace of change.
His government has begun the process of seizing farms where negotiations over compensation have failed.
Johan Steenkamp and Arnold Cloete, co-owners of the Akkerland Boerdery hunting farm in Limpopo province, said they were ordered to hand over their land after talks to buy it at a tenth of the price broke down.
Steenkamp and Cloete asked for 200million rand (£10.7million) for their reserve but were only offered 20million rand (£1.07million).
A letter they received earlier in the year said: ‘Notice is hereby given that a terrain inspection will be held on the farms on April 5, 2018 at 10am in order to conduct an audit of the assets and a handover of the farm’s keys to the state.’
The farmers have obtained an injunction, which was opposed by the government, to prevent eviction until a court rules on the case.
Mr Steenkamp told Newsweek that the decision to take his land was made on ‘very short notice’ during a public holiday.
He said he was given notice to hand the keys over to his farm within seven days.
Annelie Crosby, spokeswoman for the agricultural industry association AgriSA, told the Johannesburg based CityPress: ‘What makes the Akkerland case unique is that they apparently were not given the opportunity to first dispute the claim in court, as the law requires.’
Government spokesman ZiZi Kodwa said: ‘Over time I think the markets as well as investors will appreciate that what we are doing is creating policy certainty and creating the conditions for future investment’.
South Africa’s state-owned Land Bank has warned that the government could end up with a bill of $2.8billion if the land seizure policy leaves it so short of money that it can’t pay its debts.
Land Bank Chairman Arthur Moloto said in the company’s 2018 annual report that the bank has approximately 9 billion rand of debt, which includes a standard market clause on ‘expropriation’ as an event of default.
Moloto said if expropriation without compensation were to materialise without protection of the bank’s rights as a creditor, it would be required to repay 9 billion rand immediately.
‘A cross default clause would be triggered should we fail to pay when these debts fall due because of inadequate liquidity or lack of alternative sources of funding,’ Moloto said.
‘This would make our entire 41 billion rand funding portfolio due and payable immediately, which we would not be able to settle. Consequently, government intervention would be required to settle our lenders.’
Moloto said the bank was generally funded by the local debt and capital markets, and more recently international multilateral institutions such as the African Development Bank and World Bank.
‘A poorly executed expropriation without compensation could result in the main sources of funding drying up as investors might not be willing to continue funding Land Bank in particular, or agriculture in general,’ he said.
Some investors are concerned that the ANC’s reforms will result in white farmers being stripped of land to the detriment of the economy, as happened in Zimbabwe, although President Ramaphosa has repeatedly said any changes will not compromise food security or economic growth.
Since Cyril Ramaphosa took power, tensions in white farming communities have been rising as he has committed to a programme of land expropriation.
African National Congress chairman Gwede Mantashe last week said: ‘You shouldn’t own more than 25,000 acres of land.
‘Therefore if you own more it should be taken without compensation.’
A record number of white farmers have put their land up for sale as the government has been accused of earmarking almost 200 farms for seizure.
But the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform denied the claim, saying there was ‘no truth to this document’, News 24 reported.
The South African constitution contains a section which allows the government to seize land from farmers, but says that fair compensation must be paid.
However, the ANC, the ruling party, is believed to be trying out ‘test cases’ to see whether the land can be taken without compensation if it is deemed to be ‘in the public interest.’
If such cases fail, it has threatened to amend the constitution to remove the compensation clause.
A program of land seizures in nearby Zimbabwe in the 1990s sent the country into an economic spiral from which it has never fully recovered.
Farm union bosses say a record number of farmers are trying to sell their land before the seizures begin but that nobody is buying, making the land effectively worthless.
The ANC has sought to assuage those fears by saying that land reform will follow a parliamentary process.
‘You shouldn’t own more than 12,000 hectares of land and therefore if you own more, it should be taken without compensation,’ ANC Chairman Gwede Mantashe, who is also the country’s mines minister, told News24 in an interview published on Wednesday.
Linda Page, spokesperson for the department of land reform, said it is legal for ministers to intervene the law makes provision for the minister to intervene to purchase if it’s for the purpose of land reform.
Since 2007, a total of 23 cases have been finalised, seven in Limpopo, one in KwaZulu-Natal, seven in Limpopo, 14 in Mpumalanga and one in the Northern Cape.