On 21 December 2018 the government published their Draft Expropriation Bill 2019 for comment by 21 February 2019. As the laws will affect all of us you should read it and consider commenting. The Bill only relates to registered rights and will therefore mainly affect land rights and mineral rights.

The government has said that the law will not be enacted until after the constitutional amendment process is completed. The Bill is intended to give an indication of the government’s intentions in the meantime.

Expropriation will not be done arbitrarily but only for a public purpose or in the public interest. These are of course wide concepts and include the commitment to land reform and equitable access to national resources to redress past discrimination. The government’s stated commitment to economic stability and food security is not mentioned in the Bill.

Expropriation will not take place till the government and the property owner have attempted to agree the compensation on reasonable terms after the expropriation and its purpose is notified to the owner. The compensation must be fair having regard to the history of the acquisition and use of the property, the market value, direct state investment in the property, and the purpose of the expropriation. Unless mortgage rights are expropriated the mortgage will have to be dealt with by agreement between the owner and the mortgagee.

Expropriation without compensation will be possible for land occupied or used by a labour tenant, land held purely for speculative purposes, land owned by a state-owned entity, abandoned land, and where the market value of the land is less than the state’s investment in the land or improvements.

Land reform is essential. How it takes place is a matter for public comment and debate.