The emerging farmers of the David Kruiper Local Municipality in the Northern Cape contend that a lack of land is the main stumbling block preventing them from becoming fully-fledged farmers. They hope that the Expropriation Bill will make sure that land becomes available for them to reach their full potential.

The farmers where participating in public hearings on the Expropriation Bill at the Tol Speelman Community Hall in Upington. The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure is ensuring members of the public have an opportunity to express their views on the Expropriation Bill [B23-2020], as required by the Constitution.  

For Mr John Delwa of the African National Farmers Union, the Bill is essential, as it will give them an opportunity to grow. “I support this new Bill, because it will ensure that we share on this important commodity of land. It is really painful to know that you have the skill, knowledge and passion, but you cannot go anywhere further because you do not have any land,” Mr Delwa said.

Mr Delwa said that farming on a piece of land that provides an opportunity to only subsist is a great impediment to emerging African famers. He used an analogy to explain what he meant by explaining that the growth potential of a fish is determined by the size of the pond in which it finds itself. “You can’t put a fish in a bathtub and expect it to grow,” Mr Delwa emphasised.

His sentiments were echoed by Ms Nomusa Thoba, who suggested that it was unfair for some to have large tracts of land while a majority is struggling to subsist with a small piece of land. She also supported the Bill and emphasised that it will ensure land is shared. “I am standing here to explain what is happening on the ground, because when you are there in your offices you don’t understand what is happening. There are people that have 20 000 hectares individually, yet there are others, 40 or 50, who are forced to share only 1 000 hectares. These 50 people are unable to grow because there is overgrazing on the land. I call for government to ensure that everyone should be given 5 000 hectares each to ensure equality,” Ms Thoba suggested.    

Despite their sentiments, a majority of participants rejected the Bill and highlighted the potential risk to home ownership, food security and economic stability. According to Mr Werner Straus from the Afriforum, adopting the Expropriation Bill will have a devastating impact on all South Africans. “The Bill’s expropriate-now-and-argue-later approach is a complete consolidation of government’s power to confiscate property without judicial oversight. The Bill will not right the wrong from the past, rather it will only enable further wrong to be committed in the present,” Mr Krause suggested.

Mr Krause further suggested that the signing of the Bill will hurt the poor more than the rich. “The reality is that the signing of this bill will hurt the poor more than the rich, who have the ability to immigrate to another country in a case of economic collapse and food shortages. This Bill will also lead to food shortages, which will hurt the poor more,” Mr Krause suggested.

Mr Roudolph Sal has been a farmer for more than 20 years. The municipality removed him from the 8 000 hectares he was farming on. He argued that the state’s incapacity and inability to offer adequate support to farmers was the reason he was against the Bill. “We are being misled by populist people, who are raising people’s temperature on this emotional subject. It will be a sad day when government has to expropriate land when there is enough unused state land for the previously disadvantaged. There are enough models to make a change in land ownership and expropriation is not one of them. We can argue that the land ownership figures are skewed, but we need to find other models to change this. We must not use expropriation,” Mr Sal emphasised.

The committee welcomed the people’s views and promised that they would be considered and incorporated into the Bill. “We are grateful for the people of Khai Ma Local Municipality who, despite the prevalence of Covid-19, attended the hearings to make valuable contributions on this important Bill. We will take their views as expressed into consideration at Parliament when we finalise the Bill,” said Ms Nolitha Ntobongwana, the Chairperson of the committee.       

Malatswa Molepo
23 August 2021