Banks in SA, with R160bn on loan to the agricultural sector and more than R1-trillion in property loans, have a lot to lose if the land debate — specifically, the threat to expropriate land without compensation — does not go their way. It’s a critical point, as property is the predominant source of collateral for bank loans and the foundation of wealth creation for many. But because the transformation of the farming sector has been too slow, the public demand for the road blocks to be dismantled has escalated. There are three prongs to the debate. First is restitution: those who were evicted from their land as they were in the "wrong" race group have the right to get their land back — but a commercial bank might have lent money to the current owner in good faith. Second, there are people who are unable to find suitable land — typically emerging black farmers. Third is the problem of finding proper, acceptable quality housing for people who don’t have it. There’s no hiding the fact t...

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