OPINION: LETTER: Expropriation is puzzling
BUSINESS LIVE / 17 JULY 2018 - 05:02 / STAFF REPORTER
According to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize, SA will burn unless white land is taken without compensation. Admittedly, whites do own about 70% of farmland, but that percentage is distorted by the huge size of the Northern Cape, which is overwhelmingly held by whites. AgriSA estimates that whites hold only 50% of agricultural productive capacity.
Given that the 70% ratio is too high for social stability, the puzzling question is: why must the redistributed land be confiscated, ie acquired for no consideration? Redistribution is already taking place via the market. According to City Press the late Free State provincial councillor Sandile Msibi purchased farms and other property for R25m via the Msibi Trust.
This is unlikely to be an isolated occurrence. In the past 25 years much wealth has been accumulated via black economic empowerment, and it would be odd if none of this has been invested in land. The fact that this does not show up in the government audit of black-held land is due to the fact that this audit looked only at land held by individual title.
Where the market is too slow to achieve sufficient redistribution, surely it is better to impose a special tax surcharge on the wealthy and therefore spread the cost of land transformation? It seems wrong to punish only present white landowners, whereas all whites benefited, relatively, from racial discrimination.
Confiscating land, even though it may not be the intention to confiscate all land, will be far more damaging to the economy and to confidence than would a tax surcharge.
Unless there is some undisclosed agenda, it is puzzling that expropriation is seemingly inevitably connected to confiscation, when there are far better ways to achieve land redress.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER