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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Greedy fingers aiming at the land grabs?


I was sent an article regarding the proposed Bills now before Parliament which have an impact on the ownership of land as we know it.

The major problem I have with these Bills is that the government is really keeping a very low profile and not telling the very people it has to protect under the constitution, what is happening. If these Bills get passed it will also affect some Black business people who have set up very successful enterprises in areas that may come under some restitution claim.

We have seen how Pres. Zuma has taken out those who are opposed to his rule. Now imagine the additional power that those in power will have economically over their distractors. Either you keep quite or we take your property/business/movable assets. The choice is yours.

According to my failing memory, there was supposed to be a cut off time for ALL claims to be submitted, and no further claims would be considered. Now we seem to be heading for an open ended time frame which in its very approach, is totally draconian, and strips property owners of any and all rights.

My friends from Zimbabwe also point out that this is how Robert Mugabe started changing the laws subtly until he finally got the laws passed that allowed expropriation with no compensation as the land had been stolen from the nation! Here in South Africa we now have land that was legally bought from various Black chiefs way back in historical times, that are suddenly being claimed as ancestral lands and that they want it back from the current owners. Total hogwash I say!!

If these Bills do become law, watch your pension take a serious dive as funds leave South Africa!!—————————————————————————————————-
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I encourage all South Africans to take a look at the following three Bills in the policy pipeline at the time of this writing:
1) The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill of 2013
2) The Property Valuation Bill of 2013
3) The Expropriation Bill of 2013

All three of the above Bills can be viewed online.
While no-one would deny that some form of restitution is required in order to make right for the past evil of Apartheid, the intended strategy (as evident from the text in the above three Bills currently before Parliament), is one which will undoubtedly place every South African in a much worse condition than before.
A lot could be written in analyzing all the finer points of the above three Bills before Parliament and they raise some serious concerns on many different levels. However, for me, the following 3 aspects of the Bills, considered together, are particularly alarming:
1) The three Bills will empower the State to expropriate not only farming land (as the media is want to report) but other land aswell. If this was not shocking enough, the Valuation Bill defines ‘property’ as including ‘immovable property….rights in….such property’ and ‘any movable property which is contemplated to be acquired with the relevant immovable property.’ This opens the gate to the expropriation of businesses other than farms, operating as going concerns, on land targeted for restitution. The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill of 2013 likewise does not require ‘land’ to be only farming land (although the Bill itself applies solely to land).
Furthermore, the Expropriation Bill of 2013 defines ‘property’ as ‘not limited to land’ and as ‘including rights in and to such property’. Such a broad definition includes private assets of virtually every kind.

The view appears to be that ALL property, including mines, shopping centers, private and farming land, is potentially “ill-gotten gains” that could legally be identified for expropriation.
2) There is no legal requirement to compensate property owners at market value.
In terms of the Property Valuation Bill, the value of land intended for expropriation will be determined by a state official, called the “Valuer General”. The office of Valuer General has the sole power to decide the value of property marked out for expropriation. Although the Valuer General is accountable to the minister, the office of Valuer General ‘must be appointed by the minister’. Both the minister and the office of Valuer General are empowered to set the value of the property lower than market value. Market value is only a starting point in determining the value of land identified for expropriation. The minister is empowered to make regulations, which set ‘the criteria for the determination of the value of property’.
An ‘expropriating authority’ may take ownership and possession of property by notice to the owner and furthermore that ‘expropriating authority’ is empowered to set a date for the payment of compensation that is later than the date on which ownership and possession pass to the State.

The more one reads, the more the 3 Bills begin looking like the State giving itself the power to “legally” steal from its citizens. It is bizarre and disturbing that such a brazen step could even be attempted as it serves to totally undermine the Constitution and the due process of law.

(Please note that the current Expropriation Act of 1975 requires that ‘not less than 80% of the compensation due must be paid to the expropriated owner when the State takes possession of the property, with interest on the outstanding balance. The Expropriation Act of 1975 also states that compensation must be equal to market value and must include damages for loss suffered, plus a small further amount calculated as a percentage. The new Expropriation Bill removes these just and reasonable safeguards against the State’s abuse of their power. This would apply not only to the Government currently in power but any successive government could just walk into this legal environment).
3) Thirdly, and for me, the most worrisome feature in the above three measures under brief consideration, is the manifest attempt by the State to oust the jurisdiction of the courts (as far as is possible without being declared unconstitutional).
Note the following points:
In terms of the Valuation Bill, an owner may dispute the valuation decided by the Valuer General. However, ‘that dispute may not be used to delay, postpone or in any other way frustrate’ the expropriation of his property. Thus the State may proceed with an expropriation regardless of any dispute, which may exist regarding the amount of compensation that is due.

Objections against valuations must commence at the office of the Valuer General. Should the property owner remain dissatisfied with the Valuer General’s revised valuation, the property owner may still not seek help from the courts but must instead seek review from a valuation review committee (appointed by the minister on terms decided by the minister). The valuation review committee has no obligation to provide written reasons for its decision. All ‘internal procedures’ may be determined by the committee alone and kept behind closed doors.

The cherry on the cake must be the following provision:

In terms of the Valuation Bill, ‘a decision of the review committee is final and binding on the parties and subject only to review by a court of law.’

(There is a difference between ‘appeal’ and ‘review’ procedures. In the case of review, the court is only authorized to enquire into and adjudicate on procedural fairness. The court is not empowered to consider the actual merits of the case. The Valuation Bill of 2013, as it stands, gives the courts only the power of review and not the power to hear any appeal against the merits of the valuer general’s decision regarding the amount of compensation to be paid.)

By way of illustration, should the above Bills be made law, consider the following scenario of a property owner whose ‘property’ (as defined) has been identified for expropriation:
A business owner running a business profitably as a going concern is ‘offered’ less than market value for his / her business and land on which it operates.
The business owner disputes the valuation but is nevertheless ‘legally dispossessed of his / her business in terms of the legislation.
The business owner, now without a business, then has to follow a lengthy review process with the office of the Valuer General.
Court review is probably now beyond the reach of such a person. The review procedure by the committee has been lengthy, the business owner no longer has possession of his / her land or business and legal proceedings are costly enough as it is.
The expropriated owner is now under extreme pressure to accept the State’s offer of less than market value.
Should these Bills be made law, the effect on the South African economy will be disastrous. No-one wants to invest in a country where property rights are on such shaky ground, to say the least.
The security of property rights is foundational to any healthy economic system. Should these Bills get through to the Statute book, they will be counter-productive and ultimately hurt those they are intended to help. All South Africans will be affected.
This must not happen on our watch.

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Posted by on 23/08/2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Black Education


A bridge too far?

On Thursday last week there was an interesting article in News 24 in which Rabelani Dagada, a lecturer at Wits Business School, and a Programme Director for ICT Governance and Risk Management, told a debate on affirmative action that the apartheid-era Bantu (Black) education was far better than what is now being taught under the new post-apartheid government (ANC).

I went to my good friend Google and Linkin to see who this Wits academic is and from what base he is making these statements. Needless to say I found a man who has walked the walk and is in a position to make this assertion without fear of contradiction or favour.
I have quoted from the news article by News 24 and added some of my own comments in italics.
“It was far better in terms of quality than the education that our kids are receiving nowadays. That is where the problem is”.

And we now have these children finishing school and university with an education that is not up to standard. Pass rates have been dropped to such low levels that you only need to know less than a third of a subject and that okay to pass you. Here in the workplace we have graduates who can barely put a paragraph together in a coherent manner that have English as a subject that was passed in Matric.

“Affirmative action should be about empowerment. The best way to empower is not to take from those who have and give to those who don’t have. It won’t work.”

This statement in various guises has been bandied around for a long time and in various countries. Yet the ANC has seen it fit to ignore this warning and taken as much as they possible could from those who had and kept it for themselves. They didn’t even take the time to consider that there many who had worked very hard to get where they were without the help of the previous government. By giving those who didn’t have, a push through the education system, we have skewed the education which is necessary to take our country into the future.

Dagada said South Africans could only be empowered through proper education.
“After 20 years of democracy, the education levels have plunged. It’s worse than the so-called Bantu education. The best way to do transformation, empowerment is to provide quality education.”

And from Pik Botha at the same function:
Former foreign affairs minister Pik Botha said South Africa, under the ANC’s leadership, had moved away from former president Nelson Mandela’s principles. He said the country’s affirmative action policies were mainly hurting the black majority.

“How much further down must all of us go before we say this is enough now? Our education is far behind, it is the worst in Africa, [but] it has the highest per capita expenditure.”

Botha said Zimbabwe’s education system was better than South Africa’s.

“When is this going to change? At state hospitals black patients must wait for three years for an operation.”
Botha said when Mandela became president, he was careful not to lose skilled white people.
“He said we must not lose the proficiency of the whites. They must not leave the public service, but they should help us to train people to achieve that same proficiency,” said Botha.
“They have now removed all those people.”

 
 

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