Look at Zim, Venezuela before expropriating land

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel, the writer of this article, says the fact that AfriForum is fighting expropriation without compensation in no way implies that it is opposed to land restitution.
AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel, the writer of this article, says the fact that AfriForum is fighting expropriation without compensation in no way implies that it is opposed to land restitution.
Image: Deaan Vivier/Gallo Images

AfriForum agrees with the statement by international relations and cooperation minister Naledi Pandor in her article, "Land reform is legal", (Sowetan March 4 2020), that measures should be implemented to reduce poverty and inequality.

The problem, however, is that the government's policy of expropriation without compensation has proved on our doorstep to have exactly the opposite effect - causing the poor to be immersed in even deeper misery.

In Zimbabwe, former president Robert Mugabe used the same fine-sounding arguments as Pandor to justify his government's expropriation of private property without compensation.

Unfortunately, Mugabe's promise that expropriation without compensation would help black people ultimately resulted in a situation where black and white - and especially poor black people - were plunged into even more heart-breaking poverty.

Expropriation without compensation in Zimbabwe and the resulting withdrawal of investors due to the disregard for property rights, ultimately led to an unemployment rate of 90% in Zimbabwe, hyper-inflation and food and fuel shortages.

AfriForum therefore strongly believes that our opposition to expropriation without compensation is of importance to everyone in the country, except perhaps the politicians who will - as happened in Zimbabwe - enrich themselves through the process.

Another example. Venezuela was the richest country in central America in the 1980s. Similar to what the ANC currently argues, Venezuela's regime at the time argued that it would take "under-utilised" land into ownership without compensation in order to increase "food production" and ensure "economic progress".

Today, that country's inflation rate is currently approximately 1000000%, and 80% of Venezuela's people are living in absolute poverty.

The fact that AfriForum is fighting expropriation without compensation in no way implies that it is opposed to land restitution.

AfriForum supports the notion that cases where black people were unlawfully dispossessed of their land should be rectified.

We also agree that more successful black farmers are needed.

The current restitution and land reform legislation already provides for this to happen and there is no need for destructive policies such as expropriation without compensation.

According to former acting president Kgalema Motlanthe's high-level investigation, this process has failed not because of the constitution's provisions regarding property rights but because of large-scale corruption and the government's lack of executive capacity.

The government has already spent over R50bn on land reform but has very little to show for it, mostly as a result of corruption.

The government is now attempting to cover up its failures by turning to disastrous policies such as expropriation without compensation.

A failure can't be rectified by applying that failure on an even larger scale through expropriation without compensation.

The solution is to fix the current restitution processes by rooting out corruption and generating capacity to execute it effectively.

Therefore, as an act of patriotism, AfriForum will continue to oppose expropriation without compensation locally and internationally.

We owe it to the next generations to help ensure that SA doesn't become a second Zimbabwe.

*Kriel is the CEO of AfriForum

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