The black ANC mayor of the sprawling urban area, Mzwandile Masina, was jubilant in announcing that the first properties belonging to white owners would by confiscated, after the model of Zimbabwe’s former dictator, Robert Mugabe. On Thursday, he declared:
“Ekurhuleni Council has resolved on the Expropriation of Land without Compensation of four properties in the City. We are testing the limits of Section 25 of the Constitution in order to accelerate inclusive housing development for our people. There is no turning back!”
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) in the council voted against the resolution expropriating four properties. Council leader Philip de Lange released a statement, saying:
“We believe starting the process of expropriation without compensation will not help deliver more housing, as the ANC simply do not have the political will to serve the people. Since the dawn of democracy in 1994, the housing backlog has grown exponentially, because of the ANC’s lack of housing delivery and rampant corruption. What will change now, as the metro is already notoriously slow to hand out title deeds to residents?
“As the DA, we believe in ownership. Ownership brings not only the security of tenure but it also empowers people to use this asset to gain surety of capital, and it creates generational wealth.”
The four properties to be confiscated from their owners are:
• PTN 40 of Farm Rietfontein 63-IR‚ which is 4.4ha and privately owned;
• REM 2 Elandsfontein 90-IR‚ which is 101.2ha and privately owned;
• The remainder of Extent Benoni 77-IR‚ which is 205ha and government-owned; and
• PTN 406 Farm Driefontein 85-IR‚ which is 33.6ha and privately owned.
None of the three private owners has yet reacted to the municipality’s decision. However, FWM spoke to Mr. Jaap Kelder, a businessman and former town councillor from the East Rand, as the area has been known for more than a century.
“I am extremely worried by this decision,” said Kelder. “Expropriation is a serious problem. No person of sane mind would want to invest in South Africa, knowing that he might be expropriated by our radical government.
Asked about the effect on property values, he replied: “Values are simply going to drop. Nobody wants to live next to a squatter camp. This is what is going to happen to the expropriated pieces of land; they will be turned into squatter camps.
It has already happened to the suburb of Glen Marais. A crowd of blacks simply invaded the land and put up shacks, right up to the supermarket. Nobody wants to live there anymore.”
The decline of South Africa’s mining industry is also creating opportunity for expropriation. “Ekurhuleni has a lot of mine land; some of those companies have been liquidated, now you can simply squat on the old mine land and the municipality will expropriate it for you, ” said Kelder.