“This is nothing more than a repetition of Zimbabwean land policy.” This was the reaction of Free State Agriculture (FSA) after the former minister of agriculture, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, announced during the state of the nation address debate that uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) veterans will receive expropriated farms.

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“The government can expect strong opposition from FSA. This statement confirms that the bona fides of the new Expropriation Act are suspicious,” says Francois Wilken, president of FSA.

With this statement, the ruling party have hung out their Zimbabwean petticoat. The agricultural community confirms the growing risk that the state will follow a Zimbabwean approach to land ownership. Ironically land redistribution, restitution and land reform plays no role in such decisions. This means that land ownership and political association will be decisive and there are already examples of this,” Wilken says.

In a recent incident Western Cape government official informed Ivan Cloete that he had to leave his state rental farm because an MK veteran would receive the farm. This is the third time the state has taken a farm away from Cloete, even though he successfully managed each farm.

According to rumours Cloete was intimidated and harassed by government officials. The government officials threatened him with illegal eviction if he did not immediately hand over the farm and leave.

Last year an attempt was made to deprive David Rakgase of his farm after he had been renting his farm from the state since 1991. Rakgase was later able to buy the land in June 2020, after the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the government’s inability to sell the farm to him was unconstitutional. However Rakgase has since been waiting for his title deed, while the state again demarcated his land as state land that will be made available to others.

According to Wilken expropriation without compensation would be an abuse of political power. As the case currently unfolds, it appears that state wants the final decision-making right over who may own property. Where individual property is destroyed, human rights are violated – just as in Zimbabwe.

Anyone who wants to oppose the Expropriation Bill can record their input on FSA’s website. This input will be handed over to parliament. – Press release, Free State Agriculture