Presentation to Constitutional Review Committee, Parliament, Cape Town, by Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO, AfriForum, 6 September 2018
Expropriation without compensation is racist theft
Fifteen years ago, the South African government accepted David Rakgase’s offer to buy the farm that he was renting from them. To this very day the South African government has been unable to transfer ownership to his name.
Earlier this year Akkerland Boerdery was served with an ejectment order by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform and told that they had seven days to vacate their farms at a compensation of 10% of market value. This, to further Chinese interests in South Africa.
This week, AfriForum had to obtain an urgent application in the High Court to compel the South African Police Service to act against land invaders on the land of a Gauteng farmer, Dr. Motodi Maserumule. The Police simply refused to open Maserumule’s case.
Mr Chairperson, expropriation without compensation or below market value shows disrespect for property rights as a basic human right. I only have ten minutes, so I will keep it short and to the point. In my presentation, I will:
- Refer to the ideological goals of the ANC alliance;
- Dispel the historical fallacy that serves as motivation for expropriation without compensation;
- Explain why willing buyer, willing seller has failed;
- Why this policy would be catastrophic; and
- Why the so-called “hunger for land” is a fabrication of the ANC/EFF alliance.
The ANC and its alliance partners are rooted in Marxism-Leninism. According to its own strategy and tactics documents, the movement believes in a national democratic revolution, which implies that as much power must be centralised in the state as is permissible by the balance of forces, so that the state mechanisms can be used to further the goals of the revolution, which is to move South Africa down the path of socialism, eventually to create a communist utopia. That is why disastrous policies like those of the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cuba, Cambodia, Zimbabwe and Venezuela are frequently venerated by the ANC/EFF alliance, while the policies that have created the world’s wealthiest economies and most harmonious societies are depicted as racist, oppressive policies.
This is why upcoming black farmers are complaining that they do not get support from government. This is why already 23% of people in South Africa live on state-owned land and half of them are complaining about the quality of this land. This is why only 6% of all land that was acquired by the current government has since been transferred from state ownership to private ownership.
It is regularly argued – and especially in this House – that “whites stole the land”. This is the single biggest historical fallacy of our time. There are three ways in which white people acquired land, namely:
1. The settlement on empty land;
2. The purchase of land through treaties, cooperation and agreements; and
3. The most controversial, but least significant, by conquest.
Then, of course, there was legislation such as the Natives Land Act of 1913 and the Group Areas Act of 1950. These injustices must be dealt with, but they must be dealt with specifically, not used to construct grand false narratives or to advance new racist policies.
If, however, it is your argument – as we have heard – that ownership of land by whites should be regarded as illegitimate, because Africa is the black people’s continent, then you should be prepared to join forces with right-wing fascists in Europe who argue that Europe is the white people’s continent and that there is no place for black people in Europe. If you argue that white people in Africa shouldn’t receive equal treatment, but the rights of black people in Europe should be protected, then you are nothing other than a racist hypocrite.
Government has already spent more than R50 billion on land reform and has very little to show for it. The Motlanthe Commission found that a major barrier to effective land reform is government inefficiency and corruption. About 5% of agricultural land is available in the market for purchase every year. If government had only spent that money on purchasing farms, it would have bought out half of the country’s farms by now. But this approach wouldn’t comply with the ideals of the National Democratic Revolution, which is why the ANC/EFF alliance prefers a government bureaucracy through which it can exploit complicated processes to enrich itself at the expense of the people.
The debate about land reform comes at a time when government could least afford to lose investor confidence. Investment certainty leads to capital accumulation, which leads to more employment and higher productivity. An assault on private property leads to investment uncertainty and to economic decline.
In 2015, for the first time on record, South Africans began investing more abroad than foreigners were investing in South Africa – a sure sign of a loss of investor confidence.
Claiming that property rights would be eroded and that economic freedom would be compromised in a way that would enhance economic development is like claiming that KFC would be expanded in a way that would ensure that chickens would prosper.
Those who are calling for the erosion of property rights have not been able to provide any evidence on why a more aggressive implementation of an already failed policy would lead to anything other than a more aggressive failure. This is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Christopher Hitchens said that whatever is asserted without evidence should be dismissed without evidence. We are now being called to comment on expropriation without compensation despite the glaring fact that no evidence has been provided as to why this would yield positive results in the first place.
But, the gratification that the ANC/EFF alliance gets from hurting the middle class and the wealthy outweighs the desire to uplift poor people. The problem, however, is that expropriation and the consequential economic collapse will hurt poor people more than wealthy people who will simply leave the country, in which case you would not only have created a food shortage for all South Africa, but in which case you would also lose your tax base.
Hunger for land
All available evidence indicates that the hunger for agricultural or rural land in South Africa is largely a myth:
1. Of all the land claims to date, 59% were filed in urban areas.
2. Of all the land grabs in recent years, 84% were in urban areas.
3. South Africans, but black South Africans in particular, are urbanising at a rapid pace.
4. Of all the people who have taken the effort to file land claims, 93% have indicated that they would rather have money than land.
5. A recent poll by the Institute of Race Relations found that only 1% of people in South Africa believe that more land reform would improve their lives, and 0,6% regarded land reform as South Africa’s most serious unresolved problem.
We should not let this issue be derailed into a racial issue. Unfortunately, the President has already done so when he used the words “our people” to refer to black people. The Deputy President did so when he threatened with a “violent takeover” if white people didn’t voluntarily hand over their land to black people. Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, Zweli Mkhize, did so when he said that no property of any black person or black group would be expropriated.
It has become a popular pastime for members of this House to blame every white person for the crimes of every other white person. Now imagine if we had blamed every black person for the crimes of every other black person.
If we were consistent in how we evaluate and contextualise history, white people would make claims like “black people are murderers”, only on the basis that some black people have committed the crime of murder, or that black people had to pay reparations for the Bloukrans and Weenen massacres, or the extermination of the Van Rensburg Trek.
We would all agree that such claims would be regarded as grossly racist and intolerably unfair. And I am convinced that those of you who call for reparations most aggressively do not even know about the Bloukrans and Weenen massacres or the Van Rensburg Trek. Why? Because you are drunk on ideology. It is an ideology not based on historic accuracy, but a desperate attempt to ferment racial hatred and division with the real aim of advancing state power and hopeless socialism under the banner of “corrective measures”.
Yes, you are drunk on ideology – the ideology of the obviously failing National Democratic Revolution. You are drunk on power – since every decision you make is an attempt to gather more power and control into your hands. You are drunk on hatred and contempt – not only for white people, but for the poorest South Africans who suffer daily under your policies and will suffer even more if you continue to destroy the economy and sow hatred and division.
Issued by AfriForum, 6 September 2018