South Africa: Well, We Dodged a Bullet On Land Expropriation... or Did We?

opinion

In terms of the Expropriation Bill, something like a mass taking of all land into the 'custody' of the state would be eminently possible. 'Nil compensation would be payable here. And this could be achieved by means of a simple act of Parliament, rather as in the case of water and mineral rights.

The wording of the proposed amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution - the so-called property clause - is now out. There are, no doubt, those across the country who are asking themselves what the fuss was about. The amendment is, after all, a modest one. It effectively says there are circumstances under which the state will be able to expropriate at "nil" compensation, and that Parliament will need to determine, through legislation, what exactly that is.

Considering what the fearmongers and prophets of doom (or for that matter, the radical economic transformers, from a different perspective) have been saying about how this was the end of property rights in land, or the end of property rights altogether, this is a relief. Isn't it? We dodged a bullet. Didn't we?

Amending the country's Constitution - its foundational compact and book of rules - is a grave matter....

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