Land battle looming

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Agri SA to build “war chest” to fight for property rights

IF FARMERS lose property rights, all land owners in South Africa will lose property rights, was the dire warning from the head of Agri SA’s development council, Ernest Pringle, at the Agri Eastern Cape annual congress last week.

SOUNDING A WARNING: The head of Agri SA’s development council, Ernest Pringle, was a keynote speaker at the Agri Eastern Cape annual congress last week Picture: JON HOUZET

Pringle was one of the keynote speakers at the congress, on the topic “The realities of land reform”. About 120 delegates representing farmers across the Eastern Cape attended.

Pringle said there was a lot of rhetoric by politicians from the ANC and EFF about expropriating land without compensation and changing the constitution, much of it attributed to politicking leading up the election in 2019.

“Don’t be too alarmed at everything said,” he said.

There are however real threats which could affect property rights and food security, he warned.

Top of the list is the proposed Land Valuation Bill which would give teeth to the new position of valuer-general.

“The valuer-general is the only one who determines what the state pays for ground. He has a number of powers, including being able to see your tax returns,” Pringle said.

A worrying clause in that bill is the way the government will determine net present value.

“If I have a property worth R30-million and I’m not farming on it, what value will the valuer-general put on the property?” Pringle asked.

With the formula used in the bill, the value would be half of market value.

“It’s an attempt by government to take ground at less than market value. They think they can do it with the support of the constitution. The cleverness of it is that the valuation will be said just to be a guideline,” Pringle said.

“Every time they expropriate they will get argument and it has to go to court, which think is unconstitutional. Market value should be a starting point and then you take deductions into account after that.”

See the full story in this week’s Talk of the Town.

Farmers inspired at Agri EC Congress

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