LETTER: Government clings to outdated ideologies, not IRR
Patricia de Lille’s constant emphasis on land is misleading
Contrary to Patricia de Lille’s unfounded accusations against the Institute of Race Relations it is the government that keeps clinging to outdated ideologies — and so keeps rehashing the Expropriation Bill in the same unconstitutional form (“Land issue can do without bad analysis as Expropriation Bill is up to the task”, November 8).
The government’s intention has long been to prevent the courts from ruling on either compensation or the validity of expropriations. The 2008 and 2013 versions of the bill were overt in ousting the jurisdiction of the courts.
The 2020 update at least gives the expropriated owner a paper right to litigate on both. But the bill also allows a municipality to proceed with an expropriation — by taking both ownership and possession — long before the owner’s objections can be brought before the courts.
People already reeling from the loss of their key assets will mostly find it too costly and difficult to litigate. And especially so when the bill increases the risks of failure by saddling them with the burden of proof.
De Lille claims the problems with the bill have been “addressed”, as prominent legal experts have advised. But the unconstitutionality of the measure remains clearly apparent, whereas the IRR’s alternative is directly in line with what section 25 says.
De Lille’s constant emphasis on land is misleading too. Since the bill defines “property” as “not limited to land”, it will empower government to expropriate far more than farms for little or no compensation.
Homes, business premises, pension rights, mining rights and shares will all be vulnerable. The bill could thus be used to sanction the expropriation — for far less than market value — of all privately owned shares in the SA Reserve Bank, for instance.
Though land reform is what De Lille insists on playing up, ANC opinion polls show this issue ranks 13th on people’s list of priorities. This makes it all the more absurd for De Lille to claim that there is “no more time” to adopt a better and constitutionally compliant bill.
Property rights are too important to be dismissed so cavalierly. South Africans deserve a law that makes it easier for them to defend their vital assets, rather than one making it inordinately easy for the state to seize them.
Dr Anthea Jeffery
Institute of Race Relations
JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Send us an e-mail with your comments. Letters of more than 300 words will be edited for length. Send your letter by e-mail to email@example.com. Anonymous correspondence will not be published. Writers should include a daytime telephone number.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.