By Suren Naidoo
The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NAFCOC) and Alexandra Property Owner’s Rights (APOR) organisation have made it clear that both are against any moves that will give government the power to take away black owned properties without compensation or remove black property rights.
As the land reform debate and issue around land expropriation without compensation heats up, both organisations have made submissions to the Constitutional Review Committee on the matter. Both are of the view that land expropriation without compensation should only be confined to the restitution of land taken under apartheid.
“As one of the oldest black business organisations in South Africa, NAFCOC categorically states that we are opposed to any attempt to remove black property rights under the proposed “Expropriation without Compensation” and that land stolen by apartheid from black South Africans and unfairly transferred to white beneficiaries, must be expropriated without compensation for restitution to black apartheid victims,” Lawrence Mavundla, Nafcoc chairman, said in a statement.
“This must be done without compromising black property security under the Constitution. The current political rhetoric – redistributing unjustly acquired white farms to black people – does not take into account the fact that the amendment to the Constitution under Section 25 as proposed will outlast the current debate, current politicians and current land reform demands,” said Nafcoc.
“A central part of the anti-apartheid struggle was to get restitution and secure property rights for black South Africans. Now that finally we have these under the Constitution, we say do not rip the carpet from under us. Do not place us back in the same position as we endured under apartheid. Never again,” it reiterated.
Vakele Richard Mbalukwana, Chairperson of APOR said: “It must never again be possible for any present or future government in any form or at any level to expropriate land or other property from black people without full and fair compensation… The power of expropriation without compensation will long outlive all who govern now.”
Mbalukwana said: “The people of Alexandra want secure property rights. We do not wish to live for generations, as we did in the past, at the whim of officials with power over us and our land.” APOR said it supports expropriation without compensation of land unjustly acquired by white people and the former white regime for restitution to unjustly dispossessed black people.
Meanwhile, Nafcoc said the overwhelming majority of victims of expropriation without compensation has always been and will always be black South Africans. “This cannot be allowed to continue. We need the continued protection of the Constitution, not the promises of current politicians who have no control over whom implements the power to expropriate at the lowest levels of government now. Should we trust today’s politicians to have sway over tomorrow’s? No. They have no control over and have no idea who will wield the power of expropriation now or in the distant future. Therefore promises of what expropriation without compensation means now, are meaningless.”
Nafcoc added: “Unless expropriation without compensation is strictly confined to the restitution of land taken under apartheid, it will unleash a staggering potential for personal vendettas, corruption and victimisation of political adversities. The awesome power placed in the hands of junior unaccountable officials throughout the country is terrifying, not just for whites, but for every black South African.”
Nafcoc said that expropriation without compensation against black people did not end with apartheid, but occurs on a daily basis to this day. “Expropriation for public works, such as roads, dams, harbours, power stations, parks, schools and nature reserves happens continually. White-owned land in the path of expropriation has always been and still is fully compensated for, because white people had and have full Constitutionally protected freehold ownership. Most whites also have the wealth with which to defend themselves in court. Most black people do not,” the organisation explained.
“The expropriation without compensation debate creates the impression that it is about white rights. It is not. Black people fought and died in the struggle for constitutionally protected property rights. Our rights need to be recognised – again… One immediate means of restitution is giving title deeds to the millions of black citizens living as tenants on municipal land. Address this first – before expropriation without compensation. End apartheid dispossession and create more black landowners,” it said.
Mavundla said: “With Nafcoc, I was personally part of the struggle against apartheid, which sought to end the injustice of denying full protection of property rights to black people. This denial has continued to this day unjustifiably. There are practical alternatives to expropriation without compensation. If it is implemented, it should be clear in the constitution that black compatriots cannot and will never again be its victims.”
He added: “Practical alternatives suggested by us can enrich, liberate and empower millions of black people, as opposed to a handful of politically favoured elites and without harming property rights or making changes to the Constitution. The anti-apartheid struggle will be betrayed if expropriation without compensation is allowed against black South Africans.”