“Custodial” takings not just about land – IRR
It is now clearer than ever that the government plans to write “custodial” takings into its amendment of the Constitution, which is no surprise at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), whose analysts have been warning against this since 2014.
In a case at that stage involving AgriSA, the apex court ruled that the just and equitable test for “custodial” takings was inapplicable. Writing “custodial” powers of dispossession into new expropriation legislation will set up the state to take your property – not just land – without a cent in return.
Agriculture makes a direct contribution to the economy of roughly 2% of GDP, which is less than a third of public debt-service costs, and a factor of fifteen less than government’s ballooning explicit costs annually. In order to maintain cadre deployment networks, in the absence of mass fixed-capital-driven growth, the tripartite alliance must arrest much more than just farmland, which its drive to marginalise courts from arbitrating property rights reconfirmed last week.
Had the sober warnings of 2014 been heeded, the risk of custodial takings being entrenched now would not be as great. The current warning anticipates the following targets of “custodial” takings as essential to the project of cadre-unity and incompatible with the most basic national interests: pensions and savings, health insurance, and fixed property. The motivation behind “custodial” takings is not redress for historical cases of dispossession (since custodianship puts assets in control of the state) but to confiscate the belongings of hard-working South Africans.
Says IRR CEO Dr. Frans Cronje: “Firstly the party’s objective in amending the Constitution is not land reform in the main but rather the nationalisation of the financial services and private healthcare sectors. The ANC needs this to feed its cadre deployment networks, given their dependency on flagging tax revenues. Should it fail to pivot the financing of those networks onto the pools of capital that lie in pension funds and banks, the internal unity of the party will splinter further. Land is simply the thin end of the wedge to set the precedents that will allow such nationalisation.
“Secondly, custodianship has long been the objective of the ANC’s expropriation efforts. We have warned in writing since 2014 that the ANC would seek to amend the Constitution not just to introduce expropriation without compensation but also the even more dangerous policy of custodial takings. Mr Ramaphosa’s recent assurances to the contrary presented a case study in the well-worn strategy of ‘dexterity of tact but firmness of principle’ that has characterised the introduction of all the ANC’s more insidious policies, and were set to string South Africans along.”
Since the parliamentary public participation process has now concluded, the only hope that South Africans have to ensure the country’s future economic viability is to place pressure on organized business and agriculture so that they may place pressure on the government. This is the route the IRR is now taking.
We will be engaging with and writing letters to the following organisations to find out what their position on “custodial” taking is, and to ask them if they will protect their clients’ interests:
- Business Unity South Africa (BUSA)
- Banking Association South Africa (BASA)
- Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA)
- Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA)
- Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (AgBiz)
- Agri South Africa (AgriSA)
- The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS)
Statement issued by Gabriel Crouse, IRR head of campaigns, 22 June 2021