All attention is on the budget this week, but the defining issue confronting SA is the question of property rights. Little is likely to be a more acute disincentive for the investment — domestic and foreign — we so desperately need than the degradation of property protections.

This makes the policy programme encapsulated in the Expropriation Bill and the proposed amendment of section 25 of the constitution a profound threat to SA’s future.

It is deeply unfortunate that this is so often presented as a “land” or “land reform” matter. Farming may be viewed as particularly vulnerable, but given the state of public finances (not to mention the conduct of the state as it exists) the real prize will, in all likelihood, be financial assets, savings and pensions.

The bill and the constitutional amendment will provide the state with the legislative platform and constitutional backstop to take all manner of property. This is not a land issue.

This must be forthrightly recognised by all, including those with no interest in land. This policy agenda is a danger to every South African who owns or aspires to own property. It undermines the prospects for sustained growth that will be necessary for employment creation.

The window for public comment closes on February 28 and we urge South Africans to signal their resistance by endorsing our #KillTheBill campaign. Nobody who is concerned about the future of the country can afford to be complacent. 

Terence Corrigan
Institute of Race Relations

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