land expropriation

Warnings offered by Zambian land expropriation case

As South Africa moves towards more stringent laws to allow expropriation of property without compensation, cases in other parts of the region show the pitfalls of expropriation even where compensation is paid. A new case from Zambia’s apex court concerns land expropriated from a farmer, ostensibly for development in the public interest. It turned out, however, that fraud was involved and that after a long period in which nothing was done with the land, it was sold off – at one stage for the development of a luxury hotel and golf course.

Read judgment

This is an extraordinary case in many ways. The contested expropriation took place 33 years ago. And this judgment represents the sixth time a court has considered related issues - despite the relevant law saying that once an appeal court has decided the matter it can go no further. At 136 pages, the judgment is also extraordinarily long.

The Complexity of Land Expropriation

TO an outsider, the case might at first sight seem no more than a relatively simple dispute over ownership of the land on which a shopping mall is being built. But the case of Stantoll v Johannes involves far more complex issues than that. It is also about the difficulties surrounding state expropriation of land and subsequent expectations of compensation, at a time when this is a hot issue in many African countries.

THE case that initially sparked all the trouble involves a property developer and members of an extended family clan that used to live on the site where the development is taking place.

The disputed land lies in Ongwediva, part of Namibia’s remote, far north, an area where communal land rights are a hot issue and where the country’s ruling party has its stronghold. It’s also an area ripe for development.

Subscribe to RSS - land expropriation