Opinion: Zuma’s Call To Confiscate White Property Will Drive Investors Away

Opinion: Zuma’s Call To Confiscate White Property Will Drive Investors Away

South African President Jacob Zuma announced new land reform plans Friday, telling traditional leaders that the government will do a “pre-colonial” land audit and change the constitution to allow restitution without compensation.

Uncertainty over property rights will push investors and business players to look at options elsewhere, BizNews reported.

This isn’t the first time Zuma has promised to amend laws allowing expropriation without compensation, but it is the first time a pre-colonial” audit has been mentioned, Huffington Post reported.

Addressing the National House of Traditional Leaders in the Old House of Assembly at Parliament in Cape Town, Zuma outlined plans not mentioned in either the State of the Nation Address, the subsequent parliamentary debate or the budget speech.

Julius Malema, head of the Economic Freedom Fighters party, has been calling for land expropriation without compensation. He led the debate in Parliament on Tuesday, News 24 reported

“We remain a conquered nation because white monopoly capital still owns the means of production, and at the center of that is the land question,” Malema said as he addressed the National Assembly. “Black people, all of us, we need to unite and amend the Constitution so that we can expropriate land without compensation.”

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), called on the African National Congress (ANC) to “rein in” the president: “He’s gone rogue on land reform, contradicting both his own Cabinet and the ANC’s parliamentary caucus,” Maimane said.

Breaking down South Africa’s rural landowners by race would be “almost impossible,” according to the independent research group, the Institute of Race Relations, The Telegraph reported.

“The state owns some 22 percent of the land in the country, including land in the former homelands, most of which is occupied by black subsistence farmers who have no title and seem unlikely to get it any time soon,” IRR said. “This leaves around 78 percent of land in private hands, but the race of these private owners is not known.”

Malema has been traveling around South Africa, encouraging black South Africans to “take back land from white invaders and ‘Dutch thugs,'” the Telegraph reported:

He told parliament this week that his party wanted to “unite black people in South Africa” to expropriate land without compensation.

“People of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you,” (Malema) said.

Zuma’s annual address to the traditional leaders is known for being controversial, Huffington Post reported.

From BizNews.com. Story by Jackie Cameron and Liesl Peyper.

While much of this might be political rhetoric aimed at drumming up support among the downtrodden masses, Zuma is sounding a lot like the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Julius Malema or Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

The unfortunate results of land grabs are clear to see: north of the border, Zimbabwean citizens are starving, families have been ripped apart as a diaspora has scattered around the world in search of jobs and the country is on the brink of civil war. But Mugabe, his family and friends are doing just fine, with funds stashed in low-tax countries and luxury lifestyles on display amid the poverty back home.

There is little stopping Zuma from getting his way. Expect him to push hard on land reform as he fights to maintain support and in so doing help to keep his friends and associates in the styles to which they have become accustomed.

Zuma’s comments about taking land will fuel negativity among investors and business players. With uncertainty over property rights, they will inevitably look at their options elsewhere.

— Jackie Cameron

Zuma reiterated that there are weaknesses in South Africa’s willing-buyer, willing-seller principle which delay land reforms and that land restitution without compensation is under way.

He said the willing-buyer, willing-seller situation causes the state to be a price taker in an unfair process.

“In addition, there are too many laws dealing with land reform, which cause confusion and delays,” Zuma said. “The fact remains that land hunger is real. This is not surprising as this was the fundamental question at the centre of the liberation struggle.”

Zuma said government is considering two actions to attain the goal of radical socio-economic transformation in relation to land reform.

First, a pre-colonial audit of land ownership, use and occupation patterns should be undertaken. Once the audit has been completed, a single law should be developed to address the issue of land restitution without compensation.

“The necessary constitutional amendments would then be undertaken to implement this process,” he said.

Secondly, government is considering the redesign and establishment of the National Land Claims Commission as an institution to help government reverse “this historical injustice.” This would also require a Constitutional amendment.

“All of this will require unity and common purpose and action in the country, to ensure redress and meaningful reconciliation,” he said.

Zuma emphasized that government and the ruling party would want to ensure that the land reform process is an “orderly” one.

“We do not support chaos and illegal land grabs,” he said. “Actions must be informed by the Constitution and the laws of the land. In the meantime, land reform continues on the basis of existing laws.”

Zuma said 2017 is the year of radical economic transformation. It’s time for action.

“The ANC and government have produced enough policy documents and bills. Now is the time for action and not talking, writing or analysing,” he said.

Zuma appealed to the House of Traditional Leaders, which is celebrating 20 years of existence, to join government on its journey of bringing fundamental change in the structure, systems and institutions and overhauling patterns of ownership and management in the economy.

“Access to economic power is a key grievance of our people at this stage of our liberation,” Zuma said.

He said he’ll receive regular feedback from ministers and deputy ministers, and what exactly they are doing to ensure radical socioeconomic transformation in their departments to ensure the empowerment of black people, and Africans in particular.

“We urge our traditional leaders to use this opportunity to bring about economic stability and cultural development in rural areas,” he said.

— Liesl Peyper

Read more at BizNews.com.