CEO of Agbiz, Dr John Purchase, said the expropriation statements were contradictory to SONA’s main focus of economic growth and development and rooting out corruption.
“We strongly believe that government would need to reconsider expropriation without compensation and provide clarity to the industry on property rights,” he said.
Ramaphosa told the nation that government intended to accelerate the land redistribution programme.
“Guided by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the governing party, this approach will include the expropriation of land without compensation,” he said.
The caveat was that this should be done in a manner that would increase agricultural production and improve food security.
Ramaphosa also called on financial institutions to partner with government in mobilising resources to accelerate the land redistribution programme.
It was interesting that Ramaphosa had asked this, as financial institutions were particularly vulnerable, Purchase said.
“Farmers owe more than R160 billion in debt to financial institutions. If you start expropriating without compensation the land market would collapse,” he said.
As land served as collateral for debt, financing of agriculture would also collapse, he explained.
“It would be disastrous.”
In general though, Purchase said he welcomed Ramaphosa’s stance on growth, development and addressing corruption.
Commenting on SONA, Agri SA CEO Omri Van Zyl said: “We are very inspired by his appointment and the things he has been doing so far. From Davos to appointing Phakamani [Hadebe] as the acting CEO of Eskom … I think the economy is definitely turning in the right direction.”
However, Van Zyl also questioned Ramaphosa’s expropriation statements and highlighted the threat to the country’s financial institutions, as well as food security.
“Once you can’t get the production loans for the farmers the [they won’t] be able to plant or [purchase] animals or whatever the case might be,” he said.
Both Van Zyl and Purchase also highlighted the fact that the constitutional definition of property was very broad and did not only apply to farmland, but included anything from shares or companies, to moveable assets, homes or even intellectual property.
Purchase said expropriation without compensation was considered an attack on property rights, which were the “fundamental building blocks” of a prosperous and a developing country.
Source: Farmers Weekly