Response on the Draft Expropriation Bill 2018

Introduction

Contrary to the name of the Bill, namely ‘Expropriation’, it is actually a draft that protects private property of monopolies, the banks and mining houses. It defines the terms of compensation for land expropriation as being with compensation that is linked to market value and must be ‘just and equitable’ as per section 25 of the Constitution. In other words the commanding heights such as banks, mines, and other monopolies are safe from expropriation  as the state would not be able to afford the ‘market value’ which is currently artificially so much inflated that only imperialism would be able to afford to pay for it.

Furthermore the mineral rights are specifically excluded from all forms of expropriation, even in terms of the so-called public interest clauses.

There is only a narrow list of cases where compensation can be excluded.

Thus the draft Expropriation Bill is a sham aimed at fooling the masses that their democratic aspirations for land, housing, jobs, a decent life for all, is going to be addressed with this legislation.  In other words it serves as a means for imperialism capitalism to buy some time to remain in control and to continue to plunder SA and the rest of the continent.  We also respond to Pallo Jordan’s recent position on the land question.

We deal with the clauses below, exposing also the misleading position by the EFF on land and outline our proposals for our approach.

Expropriation with compensation

The Bill details the terms of compensation, which are far beyond the capabilities of the state and means that in essence the property of imperialism capitalism will not be touched on any major scale:

See Chapter 5 on compensation:

‘12. (1) The amount of compensation to be paid to an expropriated
owner or expropriated holder must be just and equitable reflecting an equitable
balance between the public interest and the interests of the expropriated owner or
expropriated holder, having regard to all relevant circumstances, including—
(a) the current use of the property;
(b) the history of the acquisition and use of the property;
(c) the market value of the property;
(d) the extent of direct state investment and subsidy in the acquisition and
beneficial capital improvement of the property; and
(e) the purpose of the expropriation’

Despite section 25 (6) of the Constitution guaranteeing that:

A person or community whose tenure of land is legally
insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled,
to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to tenure which is legally
secure or to comparable redress.

The new Draft Bill takes this right away as it allows labour tenants to be expropriated without compensation.  See Chapter 5 .12 (3) (a)

‘Where the land is occupied or used by a labour tenant, as defined in the Land
Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, 1996 (Act No. 3 of 1996)’ nil compensation can be paid.

The anti-worker aspect of the Bill and thus the ANC and EFF is shown here as the very workers who produce the wealth of the land are brushed aside and can be easily pushed off the land without even a cent.

Thus the aim of the Bill is not to give control to the farm worker but in certain limited aspects to give land to a section of the black middle class and aspirant capitalists.

Expropriation without compensation

This what the Bill says about cases where no compensation can be paid:

Chapter 5 : clause 12 (3):

 It may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid
where land is expropriated in the public interest, having regard to all relevant
circumstances, including but not limited to:
(a) Where the land is occupied or used by a labour tenant, as defined in the Land
Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, 1996 (Act No. 3 of 1996);
(b) where the land is held for purely speculative purposes;
(c) where the land is owned by a state-owned corporation or other state-owned
entity;
(d) where the owner of the land has abandoned the land;
(e) where the market value of the land is equivalent to, or less than, the present
value of direct state investment or subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital
improvement of the land.

We have already dealt with the case of the worker being expelled without compensation. Suffice to add that what this clause does, is advance the mass expulsion of workers who used to live on the farms. Since 1994 more than a million farmworkers have been expelled from the land. This advances the process of ending neo-feudal relations on land but replaces it with a class of wage slaves, a rural proletariat who have not even a piece of land and only have their labour power to sell. That the expelled farmworkers are resettled in old apartheid ghettoes and not integrated housing shows that imperialism capitalism in this stage of decay is incapable of ending the vestiges of slavery on which modern capitalism across Africa is based and upon which current imperialist relations stands. Thus neo-feudalism is replaced by neo-slavery, or a form of slave capitalism (ie capitalism which rests on the continuation of aspects of slavery).

On the clause of land speculation: It is specified that only those that are purely kept for speculation only can be taken without compensation. The price is land is generally high, at speculative levels for the banks. There has been among the highest rate of increase of the price of land and housing in SA than anywhere else in the world. The Economist 2011 house price indicators show that between 1997 and 2009 that the highest increase in housing prices was in South Africa, an increase of 417%. This was followed by Australia with 197%. These high prices are not challenged by the Bill nor by any of the parliamentary parties. Thus the Bill protects the profiteering of the banks. Every bank is controlled by international monopolies, thus the Bill protects imperialist profits. No wonder imperialism has no problem with this legislation.

In terms of clause 18, where a property is subject to a mortgage, the Bill is quite specific that no compensation is paid out to the landowner without agreement by the bank. In other words, the bank will first get their money and the owner will get what is left over. Thus the profits of the banks, based on the speculatively high prices, are protected by this proposed law.  

Taken together with the other proposed cases of where nil compensation is paid (such as abandoned land, state land, land held only for speculative purposes) it means that the land that is in the hands of Monsanto, Parmalat, Tiger Brands, Pioneer, all the banks, all the mines that are operational and not classified as ‘abandoned’, all the wine farms, all the 40 000 large commercial farms that are currently operational, in other words, the commanding heights of the economy, will remain in capitalist hands and will at worst be subject to massive compensation.

In short the capitalist monopolies and banks will continue with their expropriation of the wealth of the land. The masses will continue to be held hostage by the capitalist monopolies and by extension, by imperialism.

Pallo Jordan in his 18 December 2018 article (Business Day: What does addressing the land question in SA actually mean?) proposes densification as a way to begin to address ‘apartheid’ spatial injustice of forced removals etc. This is correct but the terms of the Bill excludes expropriation without compensation of the best land in the centre of the cities which is mostly in the hands of the monopolies and banks as well as the rich. Thus apartheid spatial injustice is set to continue. Jordan does not propose expropriation without compensation of the banks and the monopolies, nor of capitalist-held land in the centre of the cities and towns. He proposes expropriation of the ‘white landlords’ on the farms and replacement of large holdings with small family farms as in Europe.

Small family farms in Europe has not abolished capitalist and monopoly control of food production. As in the case of the sugar farms in KwazuluNatal, ownership of small family farms has not changed the control by Anglo American over the sugar industry. In essence his position is similar to that of Mandela as expressed in the Liberator journal in 1956, when commenting on his interpretation of the Freedom Charter, namely that the monopolies be broken up in order for a black capitalist class to thrive, not for the workers’ control over the means of production.  As Jordan is merely rehashing Mandela’s old position which is pro-capitalist through and through and advances capitalist aspirations of the black middle class, namely that it stands for the continued enslavement of the working class by the capitalist class:

In an article, entitled ‘In our :Lifetime’ published in Liberation in June 1956, Nelson Mandela made the following statement about the Freedom Charter:

‘Whilst the Charter proclaims democratic changes of a far reaching nature, it is by no means a blueprint for a socialist state, but a programme for the unification of various classes and groupings amongst the people on a democratic basis. Under socialism the workers hold state power. They and the peasants own the means of production, land, the factories and the mills. All production is for use and not for profit. The Charter does not contemplate such profound economic and political changes. Its declaration “The people shall govern!” visualizes the transfer of power not to any single social class but to all the people of the country be they workers, peasants, professional men or petty-bourgeoisie.

            It is true that in demanding the nationalisation of the banks, the gold mines and the land the Charter strikes a fatal blow at the financial and gold-mining monopolies and farming interests that have for centuries plundered the country and condemned its people to servitude. But such a step is absolutely imperative and necessary because the realisation of the Charter is inconceivable, in fact impossible, unless and until these monopolies are first smashed up and the national wealth of the country turned over to the people. The breaking up and democratisation of these monopolies will open up fresh fields for the development of a prosperous Non-European bourgeois class. For the first time in the history of the country the Non-European bourgeoisie will have the opportunity to own in their own name and right mills and factories, and trade and private enterprise will boom and flourish as never before. To destroy these monopolies means the termination of the exploitation of vast sections of the populace by mining kings and land barons and there will be a general rise in living standards of the people. It is precisely because the Charter offers immense opportunities for an overall movement in the material conditions of all classes and groups that it attracts such wide support.’

By promoting family farms as a replacement for large commercial farms Jordan also brushes aside the contribution of workers to food production over the decades and centuries. The few workers that may have any chance would have to become a capitalist landowner and employer of other workers. For all his analysis of the historic development of the land question in SA, the way forward proposed by Jordan is capitalism. In other words, he proposes the continued expropriation of the wealth created by the capitalist class and monopolies, without much compensation to the farm worker.  That compensation has been set by the state as R12 per hour. While ranting against neo-feudalism, Jordan actually proposes its continuation.

The poor shall not inherit the earth nor its mineral rights.

Imperialist icon JP Getty proposed the slogan: ‘The poor shall inherit the earth but not its mineral rights.’ Under the so-called Expropriation Bill, the poor shall not even inherit the earth nor shall they even get a sniff at the mineral rights.

The Clause under the heading ‘Vesting and possession of expropriated property’ 9 (b) (ii), states:

all unregistered rights in such property are simultaneously expropriated on the
date of expropriation unless—
(i) the expropriation of those unregistered rights are specifically excluded
in the notice of expropriation; or
(ii) those rights, including permits or permissions, were granted or exist in
terms of the provisions of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources
Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002);

Thus the definition of expropriation excludes mineral rights. Thus, even if any community or even the state gets any land, they would not get the mineral rights. The mineral rights have been allocated to the monopolies already by the ANC govt. Thus, while posing as a radical step to give land back to the people, the ANC and EFF, the sponsors of this Bill, have already  guaranteed, in advance, that the abundant wealth of the soil remains in imperialist hands. Thus, what little land is redistributed, and we have shown that even here the best land will remain in monopoly capitalist hands, the masses will be excluded from mineral rights.

This is what the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) has to say on the land question:

‘The EFF’s approach to land expropriation without compensation is that all land should be transferred to the ownership and custodianship of the state in a similar way that all mineral and petroleum resources were transferred to the ownership and custodianship of the state through the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) of 2002.’ https://www.effonline.org/on-land (accessed 12 Jan 2019)

They then state that there should be land-use licences. However if we look at the mineral rights in the hands of the state, they have largely been allocated been allocated back to the imperialists. Large-scale mining is not anything that any working class community has the funds for implementing. If any community received land which had mineral rights they would lose the land again as they would be able to mine on it unless they subject themselves to funding and thus control by monopoly capital. Thus while the EFF appears to be supporting the rights of the masses they are opening the path for continued control by imperialism and tenderpreneur partnerships by aspirant black capitalists with imperialism.

The masses shall stay hungry and imperialist control of food will continue.

The 2018-2019 Government Budget Review, Chapter 9 on Agriculture and Land, describes how 83 million hectares of the best farming land is under the control of 40 000 large commercial farmers. These deliver 99% of food production. As this land is being used and cannot be regarded as ‘abandoned’ it is excluded from expropriation without compensation. Thus the control of food will remain in the hands of the monopolies and retail giants. Thus production of food remains on the basis of profiteering of the banks and monopolies. This means that high prices of food and generalised starvation of the masses is set to continue.

According to the EFF, all that the existing commercial farmers should do is apply for a licence for farming. This doesn’t change the relations of extreme violent exploitation of farmworkers by the commercial farming capitalists. It only means that they apply every 25 years for a new licence.

So what does the EFF propose:

‘Furthermore, the state’s procurement of food should prioritise small-scale farmers so that small-scale farming becomes a sustainable economic activity for the majority of our people. The state must buy more than 50% of the food for hospitals, prisons and schools from small-scale farmers in order to develop small-scale agriculture.’

In other words, the tiny farms that currently produce 1% of our food should be built up by food contracts in part of the state sector. In other words the bulk of the food sector, currently in the hands of the giant retailers and the banks, are left untouched! Radical change to the conditions of the masses are not on the agenda of the EFF, nor of the ANC, who are crafters of the Bill. The dumping of R10 bn of food every year by the big retailers and capitalist food sector is set to continue.

Even further, the EFF proposes that food production should become the biggest economic sector. How this will happen by leaving the current retailers and the large commercial farms to continue to exploit the masses, is not explained by the EFF. How will they build up food production under workers’ control and for the interest of the masses by focusing on hospitals, schools and prisons, escapes their minds. This is because they have no plan for the working class to take over food production. In fact their plan is that the monopolies remain in control of food production. Even further, the focus of EFF on land only for food means they accept that the commanding heights of the economy remains in capitalist and imperialist hands. They do not link the land question to the need to also expropriate the mines, banks and large industry. This step is necessary for the technological, social and economic development of the country. As per the Budget 2018-19 the overall, declared profits of companies operating in SA is in excess of R1 trillion, most of which is taken offshore, to the imperialist centres. Trillions more have been taken out of the country by monopoly capital through transfer pricing and other illegal mechanisms.

On the proposal to take state land, abandoned land and land where the value of the state improvement is more than the value of the land, without compensation

The justification for taking these categories of land without compensation is based in ‘public purpose’. This is how it is defined in the Bill:

‘‘public purpose’’ includes any purposes connected with the administration of the
provisions of any law by an organ of state’

This definition is so broad that it does not coincide with advancing the interests of the working class. The current plans of the state include the privatization of state assets and advancing of the interests of BEE capitalists as partners for self-enrichment. This means the more rapid looting of state resources by imperialism, with a few billion thrown to the BEE capitalists, is what is being proposed by the drafters of this Bill. In other words, state capture by monopoly capitalism is set to accelerate under this legislation.

The Bill does not define public interest so again, it is open to broad and wide-ranging interpretation that suits the capitalist aims of the state.

Take for example, also, if a worker or middle class person owns a property that is in the pathway of the development of a road or mining operation, it means that the land can be taken without compensation as the value of the new entity would be more than the current land/structure.

On dictatorship of the Minister of Public Works

The Minister of Public Works and any state entity he delegates power to, has the power to expropriate. Given that the agenda of this Ministry has been to advance the plans of the state to privatize state entities and to casualise labour, it means that expropriation will be done to advance the interest of big capital.

Our proposals

  1. All land is immediately nationalised;
  2. Expropriation without compensation of the 40 000 large commercial farms, to be placed under direct workers control. The establishment of a national committee comprising of delegates of farm workers to plan food production and to place it on a rational basis. Assistance to the small farmer of cheap credit, training, implements and broad support. All land held in communal trusts or in current communal areas are protected and thus excluded from expropriation. Immediate process to begin phasing out GM crops; stop all evictions of farm workers; immediate use of agro-ecological methods that are not harmful to humans and the rest of the ecology.
  3. It follows that the large retailers and distributors, such as Woolworths, Shoprite-Checkers, Spar and Pick ‘n Pay should be expropriated, without compensation and placed under direct workers control;
  4.  All mines and companies that have engaged in transfer pricing, hiding of profits, channelling funds through entities such as on the Cayman Islands, have exported profits out of Africa, have delayed payment of benefits such as pensions or compensation for injuries and sicknesses for longer than 3 months, should immediately be expropriated and placed under workers’ control, including delegates from workers who are owed unpaid benefits and compensation.
  5. All mining rights held directly or indirectly by monopoly capital is subject to expropriation without compensation but must be placed under direct workers’ control.
  6. All mines, banks and large companies should immediately open their books to independent scrutiny, under the control of the workers there.
  7. All companies and mines that have profited, directly or indirectly from mining, wars, or any exploitation in the DRC, the CA R and other African or South American or Asian countries should immediately be expropriated, without compensation and placed under direct workers’ control.
  8. All companies that trade, directly or indirectly, with Israel, should be immediately be expropriated without compensation and placed under workers’ control.
  9. The centralising of all banks, including the Reserve Bank into one state bank, without shareholding; This means the expropriation of monopoly capital but not the bank depositors. This will enable cheap credit to be offered where needed and for rational use of funds.
  10. All expropriation must be overseen by a committee of farm workers and mineworkers, including those directly working on the affected land.
  11. ‘Public purpose’ and ‘Public interest’ shall be redefined as advancing free, quality education for all, free, quality health care for all, decent housing for all irrespective of level of income, for creating integrated housing on the best land, located close to places of work and disbanding the apartheid group areas in practice. The definition shall include the provision of work for all, namely that all work shall be divided among all who can work, without loss of pay; thus also reducing the working hours to what is deemed necessary, and allowing for the social caring of all work that is traditionally regarded as women’s work (child care; cooking; washing clothes; cleaning). The definition shall be expanded to also include the advancement of art and culture, using the best development of technique gathered from an international scale. The definition shall include the return of people to the original areas they were forcibly removed from by the state since the 1913 Land Act and subsequently, which shall include compensation. Compensation to be sought from all colonial and imperial powers for land dispossession and state violence against the masses since 1652.

We are quite prepared to make a presentation in person.

S Mahomed

17.2.2019

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