OPINION: EWC is a false, immoral and destructive narrative

Expropriation without compensation NEASA’s submission to parliament

NEASA has submitted its comments on the proposed 18th Amendment Bill (‘the Bill’) as it relates to proposed amendments to section 25 of the Constitution to the ad hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution (‘the Committee’).

In this submission, NEASA sets out its reasons for the rejection of the Bill in its entirety and also exposes Government’s false rhetoric and their sinister agenda behind these amendments.

NEASA exposes the pitfalls of any expropriation laws which are aimed at undermining property rights of citizens, which pose a colossal danger that will cripple the country’s economy. The EWC doctrine, which enables the arbitrary confiscation of property, has failed in all jurisdictions globally, where it has been adopted.

NEASA points out that the Bill transgresses international laws and treaties, to which South Africa is a signatory. This will naturally have a negative impact on foreign relations and foreign investment, which will not only cause economic growth to cease in its entirety, but will cause an acceleration of job losses, hyperinflation, the cessation of production and consequently severe food shortages, the failure of financial institutions, damage to social trust, and will discourage any form of entrepreneurship and business.

NEASA points out the dangers of the proposed discretionary powers to be given to the officials in the Executive of all three spheres of government and emphasises the immense risk in the arbitrary exercising of this discretion. Contrary to the former version of the Bill, the jurisdiction of the court deciding on nil compensation has been removed. This is an insidiously clear limitation of the role of the court in deciding on nil compensation and an infringement of the doctrine of separation of powers.

The fact that EWC will extend to all property and not just land is also commented on. In terms of this amendment, Government has the power to seize any form of property from its citizens, including, residential property, shares, investments, medical aid- and pension fund reserves, and any other assets under the undefined auspices of so-called ‘public interest’, assumingly, again at the behest of a state official, which would be the end of the property rights regime in South Africa.

NEASA further comments on the proposals requiring that conditions should be fostered to enable state custodianship of certain land for citizens to gain access to land on an ‘equitable’ basis. Notwithstanding the glaring disregard for property rights, the concept that a state can confiscate one’s land, under the guise of custodianship, without compensation, is immoral. According to highly criticised existing legal precedent, state custodianship of land will strip all owners of the rights they enjoy and terminate any hope of gaining title for millions of South Africans. South Africans will be turned into tenants of the state, obliged to pay rent for what (in many cases) they used to own.

NEASA highlights that Government’s campaign to bring about an amendment to the Constitution has been almost exclusively focused on alleged ‘restitution’, which is a blatant lie. ‘Restitution’ is a matter of justice, where property that was illegitimately taken by the State from its owner is returned to that owner or their descendants, or compensation is paid in respect thereof.

However, Government has always had a policy preference for redistribution and nationalisation (as opposed to restitution), meaning that, should the Bill be adopted, it is likely to be utilised to take land from legitimate owners, who will be subjected to summary eviction at bureaucratic whim, and given to persons unrelated to that land, to make way for politically connected luminaries and favoured cadres.

EWC has caused anarchy and chaos in all countries where it has been implemented, and to believe that it will be any different in South Africa, is dangerously naïve.

NEASA unequivocally rejects the Bill, which must be scrapped and abandoned.

To view NEASA’s submission, click here.


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