National Council of Provinces urged to reconsider risk to food security posed by the Expropriation Bill

Agri SA has submitted its comments on the Expropriation Bill to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The submission clearly signifies the potentially catastrophic impact of the bill on the agricultural sector and the country’s food security if passed by Parliament.  

The submission follows the passage of the Bill in the National Assembly, whereafter it was referred to the NCOP. Should the NCOP approve the bill, it will then be sent to the President for assent, whereupon it will become law in South Africa. 

In its submission, Agri SA has made clear what detrimental impact the bill will have on the agricultural sector and greater economy. Agri SA is particularly concerned about the definition of expropriation as well as section 12, which deals with compensation for expropriation and specifically sections 12(3) and 12(4) of the bill. The weakening of property rights will make capital raising exceedingly difficult for farmers in a cyclical sector that depends on the ability to leverage property rights to access operating capital. 

This undermining of the viability of both established,  emerging and new producers could lead to a catastrophic collapse of the country’s food security. South Africa already faces substantial threats to food production in the form of significant inflationary pressures, loadshedding, and deteriorating infrastructure. These challenges have been exacerbated by environmental phenomena including flooding, droughts and locust infestations. 

Beyond food security, the Bill will also undermine the very objective it seeks to achieve: the transformation of the agricultural sector. Without constitutionally protected property rights, fewer emerging farmers will be able to access the capital needed to build sustainable farming operations. Established as well as new entrants into the agriculture sector will have to contend with a right in law that could at any moment be taken away from them. 

The economic consequences of the Bill also extend far beyond the agricultural sector. With reduced food production will come the need for increased food imports to the detriment of our national balance of trade. The resulting net outflow of money from the local economy will be less revenue for the fiscus, leading to the diminution of desperately needed resources to rebuild the infrastructure and institutions, and to improve service delivery to the poorest in South Africa.

In addition to the practical and economic implications, the bill is further defective with reference to the South African Constitution and out of step with constitutional democracies globally. The watering down of property rights has dire consequences, as has been so graphically illustrated in the destruction of the Zimbabwean and Venezuelan economies. 

The potential ramifications of passing the Expropriation Bill are daunting. The country’s food security and the viability of the labour-intensive agricultural sector in South Africa hang in the balance. Property rights are the cornerstone of economic development and Agri SA will use every tool at its disposal to ensure their continued protection under the Constitution of South Africa. We trust the country’s representatives in the NCOP will heed this critical warning, and that government will reconsider this destructive legislative experiment. 

Media enquiries:

Andrea Campher

Risk and disaster manager

C : 079 887 2174

Willem De Chavonnes Vrugt

Chair: Agri SA Centre of Excellence: Land

C: 082 946 2303