It’s now up to NCOP to shield SA from grave EWC risks – IRR

Institute says ANC is committing political suicide, but it could bring the country down with it

It’s now up to NCOP to shield SA from grave EWC risks – IRR

29 September 2022

For the second time in as many days, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) calls on the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to speak up for the national interest and stop bad law-making; this time, by rejecting the fundamentally corrupt Expropriation Bill, passed at record pace yesterday by the National Assembly.

The IRR made an identical call just yesterday in the case of the Land Court Bill – passed by the National Assembly with similar haste – which the Institute warned was a direct attack on the independence of the judiciary, and whose clauses stood to have a wide-ranging impact on land disputes and all eviction challenges in urban, semi-urban and rural situations.

Today, the focus is on the law that will usher in Expropriation without Compensation (EWC).

It was passed by the National Assembly at record pace on Wednesday night, having only been signed off at committee level a week earlier, despite its posing an existential threat to South Africa’s prosperity and potential for economic growth.

In its formal submissions, as well as in thousands of media engagements, the IRR has shown that EWC violates the Rule of Law, the Bill of Rights, and any basic test of rationality. In opening Wednesday night’s Parliamentary debate on the EWC Bill, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille described such warnings as “alarmist”. This is for South Africans to judge.

The EWC Bill allows fixed property to be subject to EWC if “the owner’s main purpose is…to benefit from appreciation of its market value”.

The EWC Bill also allows property to be subject to EWC if the owner is “failing to exercise control over it”. In other words, if one’s property is invaded then one is no longer exercising “control over it” and EWC may be triggered. This is particularly concerning as land invasions are increasing dramatically, particularly in the Western Cape, where public records have been made available.

The EWC Bill has an open list of “relevant circumstances” in which the state may seize property without compensating an owner that has committed no crime. This means there are situations where innocent people’s property can be taken for reasons not yet dreamed up.

Julius Malema MP understands that EWC will harm South African economic prospects. In 2018 he said, regarding EWC, “if you are not prepared to take the pain then forget about the land”.

He added: “I hope the Zuma group in the ANC which is supporting this thing...know the consequences. We know the consequences … death is the first price we are prepared to pay. The second price we are prepared to pay for this land is poverty. They will close taps. But if there is a conviction, and not sloganeering and public opinions, then we must be prepared for everything. It’s a war.”

But this is a constitutional democracy and public opinions matter. What are the public opinions?

In 2020 the IRR commissioned an independent, nationwide, demographically representative survey which included the question: “Do you prefer a political party which promises faster economic growth and more jobs, or one which promises land expropriation without compensation as redress for past wrongs?”

15% of white respondents and 15% of black respondents said they prefer EWC. Like Malema, this minority is willing to take the “pain” in order to violate human rights. But 80% of black respondents and 80% of white respondents said they prefer growth and more jobs.

The ANC has declined in electoral support since the mid-2000s, slipping below 50% in last year’s nationwide municipal elections. Yesterday’s vote in favour of EWC, against growth, will only accelerate the ANC’s popular decline. The party has lost touch with its base and is harming the material interests of all decent South Africans.

Said IRR Head of Campaigns Gabriel Crouse: “The ANC is committing political suicide, but it could bring the country down with it. In a free and fair election, the ANC will be hammered for letting vengeful EWC trump the common urge to go forward. The best hope for the ANC and the country is that the NCOP comes to its senses and rejects the stunningly unconstitutional EWC Bill.” 

Issued by Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns, 29 September 2022