South Africa’s Jewish farmers have shared their concerns over calls for land expropriation without compensation.
This comes after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the African National Congress (ANC) adopted a motion for the expropriation of white-owned land, meaning farms, without compensation. The motion was passed by the National Assembly last month, with a vote of 241 to 83. This past week it was also agreed to by the National Council of Provinces.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post this week, Isaac Jocum, an extensive beef producer in the province of North West, said that he has been farming for 33 years. “I am the third generation farmer in the Jocum family. My family purchased this land in 1934 and were of the first pioneers to start farming in this area,” he explained.
“In 2006, one of my farms was expropriated by the new ANC government with compensation. The legal process laid down by the government was not adhered to, I was not even officially notified. I happened to hear from a neighbor, but still had to sell.”
He called the idea of land expropriation without compensation “dangerous.”
“If the government proceeds with this action it will have far-reaching negative social and economic consequences for almost every citizen. I will not only be losing my land but also my assets, my livelihood, my home and my retirement investment plan,” he said. “It will also have a detrimental economic chain reaction on all secondary agricultural industries and finally on food security for the whole country.”
Jocum said that, to date, the production records and economic well-being of the farms already redistributed are very poor. “From this you can only conclude, this new policy is largely only political in nature and incorporates very little economic goals... White farmers have been under constant threats since 1994.”
He highlighted that “if common and or economic sense doesn’t step in and prevent” this process, “it is going to result in devastating social and economic consequences for the whole country – not just [for]... white farmers.”
“Our neighbor Zimbabwe is an excellent living testimony after embarking on almost the exact same policy,” he added, referring to a similar policy of land redistribution that was put in place in Zimbabwe in 1992, and which was one of the main reasons behind the country’s later economic collapse.
However, the ANC and the EFF agreed that any amendments to the constitution to allow for the expropriation of white-owned land or farms without compensation must go through a parliamentary process.
Trevor Datnow, a game farmer near Kimberley in the Northern Cape, told South Africa’s Jewish Report that land expropriation is “a disaster in the making and a sham.”
He said that he “watched as 25,000 hectares of land near me was claimed by the government and is still unused 20 years later and yet to be transferred to black farmers.”
Datnow explained that in 2002, all landowners’ mineral rights were nationalized and he is deeply concerned that expropriation is one step away.
He suggested that the best option to create a win-win solution is to give long-term leases to white farmers, “so that black owners feel secure that they own the land, and white farmers feel secure in the future of their business.”