Former ANC MP says land expropriation bill similar to apartheid laws

AUGUST 5, 2015

A former ANC Member of Parliament, Salam Abram, who is a guest speaker at the 2015 Agri EC Congress near Jeffreys Bay reportedly told farmers on Wednesday that the land expropriation bill will make agriculture in South Africa unsustainable.

According to an Agri EC report, the 74-year-old, who describes himself as a South African of Indian descent, compared the bill to the apartheid system's discriminatory laws such as the Group Areas Act, under which he himself previously suffered.

“As a child, I saw some of the harsh realities of discrimination, just as I see them today against the commercial agricultural fraternity.”

Abram has had a passion for agriculture from a young age and when his father’s 10 hectares of hired land was rezoned as a white area in 1962, the family had to apply for a permit to remain there. This was the start of his career as a political activist, which saw him join the Indian representative council and eventually work towards the creation of the tricameral parliament.

“In 1991, we were able to pass the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act,” he said.

A key aspect of this victory, he said, was creating a “mental shift” among a small group of influencers who could see their vision for the future.

“In negotiating with government today, we must find those people and get them to walk the path with us so we can take agriculture in a completely new direction.”

While a legal mechanism for land expropriation for the public purpose was necessary, Abram cautioned that immoral leaders could use it for their own gain.

He pointed to dysfunctional systems in rural areas, resulting in depopulation and grant-dependent populations, as well as fictitious agricultural projects that drain funding, as contributing factors in the current crisis.

“But despite the harsh realities, my fellow South Africans must be given hope for the future.”

He said negotiation was a long and often difficult path but that it was possible for both sides to win.

“When Nelson Mandela addressed the SA agricultural union congress in 1994, he said that there were injustices in the past and we needed to redress them. But in doing that we must be careful that we do not create new injustices.”

Image and reporting: AgricEC