Negotiations are over for at least two game farms in South Africa’s northern province of Limpopo which are now up for unilateral seizure by the government.
Though South African authorities say the farmers will be paid, the “offer” is a tenth of the asking price: $1.87 million as opposed to $18.7 million for the land. In addition to alarms bells after the government moved straight to seizure after a negotiation stall, in at least one of the cases the law was forsaken with the farmer not given the opportunity first dispute the claim in court, per the law.
It is perhaps a sign of what is to come with constitutional changes for imminent domain run roughshod, which includes in the political eyes of the African National Congress, the redistribution of white-owned farms to blacks.
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If the seizures go ahead, it would be the first time the state refuses to pay market value for land. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing seller, willing buyer” process to redistribute white-owned farms to blacks.
A 2017 government audit found white people owned 72 per cent of private farmland in South Africa. According to the 2011 census, there are about 4.6 million white people in South Africa, accounting for 8.9 per cent of the population.
African National Congress spokesman Zizi Kodwa would not reveal details of the farms targeted and attempted to play down investor fears, saying the proposed seizures were “tied to addressing the injustices of the past”.