The Banking Association South Africa (BASA) acknowledges the decision of the Constitutional Review Committee to recommend that Section 25 of the constitution – the property rights clause – be amended to explicitly provide for the expropriation of land without compensation.
BASA made written and verbal submissions to the committee. We recognise that the outcome is a result of the legitimate demand for land reform in South Africa.
BASA supports land reform. South Africa has not adequately dealt with the consequences of land deprivation during apartheid and colonialism; and the slow pace of land reform – along with growing poverty and inequality – has led to widespread frustration that threatens our social and economic stability. Land restitution, redistribution and security of tenure are means of providing vulnerable people with access to secure incomes and opportunities to create the generational wealth needed to correct the injustices of the past.
We urge the Constitutional Review Committee, Parliament and the relevant government departments to expedite crisp, clear policy and legislative frameworks in respect of expropriation without compensation, as soon as possible.
Care must be taken to ensure that any amendment to the Constitution does not weaken or reduce property rights in South Africa. An amendment that leaves all property or specific classes of property – homes, assets, intellectual property, productive agricultural property, among others – vulnerable to expropriation without compensation, would be a real risk to banks and the country’s ability to attract both local and international investment, grow an inclusive economy and create jobs.
The High-Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change, chaired by former President Kgalema Motlanthe, noted that obstacles to sustainable land reform include: a weak bureaucracy; a lack of post settlement support for beneficiaries; corruption in private and public sectors; a lack of clarity on “just and equitable” compensation; and urban housing backlogs that have resulted in land invasions. The proposed amendment and related legislation must address these challenges for sustainable land reform to succeed.
Over the past year, BASA, along with other stakeholders – including land activists and commercial and emerging farmers – have put forward proposals to finance and support sustainable land reform and food production. These include public-private-partnerships, blending government support with commercial loans, and providing business skills and other inputs to emerging farmers and land-reform projects, so that they can become part of the formal economy. We will continue to work towards faster, sustainable land reform. BASA is committed to:
The association supports an independent socio-economic impact study into the effects of expropriation without compensation; an authoritative land ownership audit and the creation of an electronic register for all properties.
We know that land reform is – rightly – an emotive debate that goes to the heart of correcting the injustices of the past; but to secure the future of our country and its people, the outcome must also be based on empirical, reasoned arguments.