Date: 06 September 2018 By: Andries van Zyl
The South African government’s current attempt to expropriate two farms behind the Soutpansberg at 10% of the market value seeks to employ land reform as the pretext to hide the real motive behind the expropriation: That the government wants to lay its hands on the rich coal reserves below the surface of these farms to facilitate expansion of the Chinese government’s economic interests in South Africa.
This was the view expressed by the South African civil rights organisation AfriForum, Akkerland Boerdery as owners of the two farms Lukin and Salaita, the agricultural organisation TAU SA, the trade union Solidarity and Agri Limpopo, during a joint media conference in Pretoria on Monday.
The organisations pointed out that Chinese government-controlled companies were planning development to the value of $10 billion in the Musina-Makhado special economic zone, within which Akkerland is situated. “Exploration by the controversial Coal of Africa Limited [now known as MC Mining] on Akkerland indicates that the farm’s coal is suitable for use in power stations and steel factories,” said the organisations. They added that the government needs the coal reserves on the farms because the Chinese development includes, among others, the building of a coal-powered power station, a coal plant and various metallurgical plants.
AfriForum, TAU SA and Solidarity also announced in a press release on Monday that they would financially support Akkerland Boerdery’s legal actions against the government’s expropriation attempts in the interest of the protection of property rights. They would also offer help to uncover the injustices committed against the Akkerland Boerdery nationally as well as internationally. These organisations also requested the public to contribute financially to Akkerland’s legal battle and have already opened a separate banking account in the name of the “Akkerland Regsfonds”, which will be administered by TAU SA’s auditors. The organisations will publish the banking details on their respective websites.
According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, Akkerland Boerdery’s two farms are at the top of the government’s secret expropriation list, entitled “proposed expropriation test cases”, which is currently circulating in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and was recently made public by AfriForum. “Despite government denying until very recently the existence of such a list, the correctness of the list is confirmed because government has already started to expropriate Akkerland’s farms at significantly lower compensation than market value,” Kriel said in the press release.
According to Louis Meintjes, the president of TAU SA, the expropriation of Akkerland’s farms at a fraction of their market value is an indication that the ANC’s stated policy of expropriation without compensation is in the process of being settled. Leon Borcherds, president of Agri Limpopo, added to this by saying that the principles on which the court must rule in the Akkerland case will have a decisive impact on how landowners will be compensated for expropriation in future.
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.