Boxes of objections to expropriation of land without compensation have been delivered to the Union Buildings, reports Centurion Rekord.
Institute of race relations (IRR) head of strategic operations Sihle Ngobese said 160,000 people had signed the petition and delivered it to the office of the president.
Ngobese said collecting the 160,000 names had taken about a year, and that the petition was aimed at getting parliament to listen to the voice of ordinary South Africans on land expropriation.
“The 160,000 people understood that giving politicians the power to decide essentially what to confiscate from us (citizens) without compensation, is not a power any politician should have.”
The IRR warned that weakening property rights would damage South Africa’s economic prospects significantly.
“Land reform can be done without tampering with property rights, which are one of the cornerstones of any functional democracy. Any move to weaken them will result in dire consequences for all South Africans.”
Ngobese said if land expropriation was allowed, it would amount to the same mistake the apartheid government had.
He explained that expropriation would not fix “the issue” of how to return land to those who were dispossessed, adding that the IRR was not opposed to land restitution, but did oppose land expropriating without compensation.
IRR head of campaigns Marius Roodt said that people needed to consider whether government was pro-land reform.
“Our polling shows that most South Africans are opposed to it, and we must not give any government the power to take your property away without paying for it,” Roodt said.
He said government could invest more into the land reform instead of VIP protection and other “unnecessary services”.
“The government can put money into making land reform work, but politicians have prioritised their own safety over land reform.”
With the looming elections, the IRR urged South Africans not to give any politician, no matter their political affiliation, the power to dispossess people of their land without compensation.
The petition was received by Vincent Ngcobonwane of the presidency. For the IRR, the most meaningful response from the president would be for the government “to scrap the policy in favour of vigorous land reform based on securing and extending property rights”.