Will SA banks declare their opposition to Expropriation Bill? – IRR

Institute says South Africans deserve to know where those who manage their money will help protect their clients’ assets

Will SA banks declare their opposition to the Expropriation Bill? – IRR

16 February 2021

As the deadline for public comment on the Expropriation Bill rapidly approaches, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) will this week be asking the country’s major banks and financial institutions whether or not they will be making submissions to Parliament to warn against the risks to their clients.

The IRR will put these four questions to the major institutions:

Have you made a submission to Parliament on the Expropriation Bill? If not, why not?

Have you informed your clients of the significant risks posed by the Expropriation Bill to their financial and asset interests? If not, why not?

Have you requested from Parliament and government appropriate socio-economic impact assessment reports on the Expropriation Bill? If not, why not?

Do you oppose expropriation of assets without compensation?

The deadline for comment was extended from 10 to 28 February, thanks in large part to IRR pressure. It is vital that South Africans stand up against a draconian Bill which will give the state an inordinate amount of power to seize the property of ordinary citizens without paying for it, and prevent South African from repeating the mistakes of countries such as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

As the definition of ‘property’ in the bill is not limited to land, South Africans deserve to know where those who manage their money stand on the issue of expropriation without compensation and whether these institutions will help protect their clients’ assets.

At the same time, land reform is not the pressing issue that the government pretends it to be. This is evident in the relatively modest resources the government itself allocates to agriculture and land reform. (Opinion polls indicate that land reform is not a priority among citizens either.) The risk in the current push for the new Expropriation Bill is that it is a move by a government not known for its probity to secure more power for itself and to use it as a fig leaf for earlier failures.

Said Hermann Pretorius, head of strategic initiatives at the IRR: ‘This Bill, if it becomes law, will condemn a generation of South Africans to lives of penury and want and will simply be repeating the mistakes of other countries, which can easily be avoided.

‘It is no exaggeration to say that the next few weeks will be some of the most important in the history of post-apartheid South Africa, and it is in the public interest for South Africans to know the position of banks and other financial institutions on the Expropriation Bill. Will banks stand with the people or the government?’

Issued by Hermann Pretorius, IRR Head of Strategic Initiatives, 16 February 2021