Monday, 11 August 2008

Expropriation of Property in South Africa

There's a bill currently before the Parliament of South Africa called the Expropriation Bill.

It gives government ministers the power to expropriate private property for public use, or to expropriate it if it is deemed to be in the public interest; which includes expropriating it on behalf of a private individual who will then become the new owner. Compensation must be paid to the previous owner but the amount is a balance between the value of the property and the public interest.

The property to be expropriated is likely to be farmland in the first instance, although the Bill is worded loosely enough that other land, factories, businesses, shares or even intellectual property such as copyrights could be expropriated.

Unsettling similarities with Zimbabwe can be seen. The current hyperinflation and economic collapse in Zimbabwe started when white farmers had their land confiscated. And now we are seeing the very early seeds of mass-starvation in South Africa.

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