The residents of the Bufalo City Metropolitan Municipality, which includes the towns of East London, Bisho and King William’s Town; have called on the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution to speed up the amendment so that the implementation can also be effected with speed.

The third leg of the Eastern Cape hearings took place in King William’s Town where the War Memorial Hall was full to capacity, largely by the young people from different political parties and others representing civic, church, and workers organisations.

The residents told the committee that they wanted their land back without compensation. They said the committee should not waste tax-payers’s money on lengthy processes. Furthermore, they said, the land question is an important national issue and the land should be returned to its rightful owners.

Several residents spoke of the blood spilt by their forefathers in defense of their land. Bring back the dignity of our forefathers, the residents said. The state, including Parliament, the executive and the judiciary, they said, have a responsibility to redress the imbalances of the past by implementing laws to ensure that all the natural resources including land are equitably redistributed among South Africans.

 Although the majority during the hearings used the opportunity to reemphasise their support for land appropriation without compensation and made suggestions on the drafting of Section 25, there were also those who opposed the amendment of Section 25. They told the committee that there is no need to amend the Constitution. The only thing that must be done is to address inefficiencies, corruption and lack of accountability form the side of the government. They said amending the Constitution creates uncertainty that will negatively affect the struggling South African economy.

The Chairperson of the delegation, Advocate Bongani Bongo said that the processing and drafting of legislation can be lengthy, as Parliament needs to ensure that all the inputs are thoroughly captured. Hence the Ad Hoc Committee has been split into two delegations in order to cover more ground.

Felicia Lombard
16 March 2020