Business needs to stand up and defend property rights - AfriSake

Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg says it is not just farmers who are threatened by Gugile Nkwinti's proposals

Government's new land robbery programme will hit business sector the hardest

The business community will have to mobilize to protect property rights in South Africa. According to business rights watchdog, AfriBusiness, there is growing concern amongst business people about the economic impact of the newly proposed land redistribution programme of the Department of Land Reform, entitled: Strengthening the relative rights of people working the land (see here).

According to AfriBusiness CEO, Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg, farmers are not only land owners, they are business people as well. Should this policy be ratified, it will create a legal framework within which the State will be able to redistribute the assets of any business amongst the workers of that business. The policy will ultimately not apply to farms only. Should this become possible, no asset (current or fixed) will be safe.

Property rights are economic realisation of human rights. "Government should be aware that ownership rights and civil rights are fundamentally interlinked. This is why AfriBusiness believes that the deprivation or weakening of property rights will inevitably clear the way for other rights violations in the country." 

AfriBusiness also warned that the current policy pressure from the Communists within the ANC-led government should not be regarded simply as election rhetoric. "There are more than 13 acts, bills and policy documents which drastically limit ownership rights and which could cost South Africa dearly," Jansen van Rensburg said.

This new proposed policy is rooted in the Freedom Charter and the National Development Plan, and not just election talk. "The aim of the policy is to deprive land owners of 50% of their land by means of a worker ownership scheme and it proposes several draconic measures which will leave land owners at the mercy of politicians, inept state officials and a radicalising work force.

Anyone, regardless of race, who would replace the word "land" in the policy with "the assets of my business" or "my house/money/shares/vehicles" will be able to determine the ultimate extent of the policy.

AfriBusiness believes that the business community has a responsibility to prevent South Africa from sliding down this slippery slope. In order to pose a pro-active alternative to this growing challenge, AfriBusiness will do the following:

1)  In May of this year a report, analysing the changing legal framework for property rights in South Africa, will be made available to the business sector.

2)  A Charter of Rights will be formulated in order to create awareness of rights of the business community.

3)  AfriBusiness will support legal action where ownership rights are threatened or violated by Government.

4)  Business chambers will be mobilised.

5)  AfriBusiness will seek to actively liaise with policy makers and other business stakeholders.

Statement issued by Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg, Chief executive, AfriBusiness/AfriSake, April 9 2014

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