Term:EXPROPRIATION OF LAND

The compulsory taking over of land by the government of a country. In most capitalist countries the right of citizens to own land is protected by the constitution. There are certain exceptions. For example, if the government wants to build a road through your land, it can ”expropriate” which means forcing you to sell it for a market-related valuation. If you did not like that valuation, you would have recourse to the courts. In South Africa, many pieces of land are seen as having been unfairly taken away from black people and the government is intent on expropriating those areas and returning them to their original owners in order to redress the wrongs of the past. This process has been achieved by the government buying the land back at market-related rates. The problem is that the government cannot afford to buy more than a very small amount of land each year, which means that there is a lengthy backlog of properties which are being considered for expropriation. Some political parties have called for the law to be changed so that the government can expropriate land without paying any compensation at all – but this would require a change to the constitution and that would need a two-thirds majority in parliament. Much of the productive agricultural land which has been expropriated in South Africa has been handed over to inexperienced and under-capitalised farmers resulting in it not being efficiently used for food production. This threatens the food security of the country.

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