Political parties in the National Assembly are divided on whether there is a need to amend the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, in order to expedite the land restitution programme.
Today (Tuesday) the National Assembly held a discussion on the subject: “Speeding up land reform by using the limitation clause in the Constitution to bypass the failed ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ policy”, where Members from the different political parties exchanged views on what they believed were obstacles to a successful land reform and made different proposals.
The initiator of the topic, Mr Sibusiso Mncwabe of the National Freedom Party (NFP) said some of the biggest obstacles to the successful implementation of the land reform programme in South Africa high compensation fees as well as administrative and bureaucratic delays in processing land claims.
“It is time we consider invoking Section 36 of the Constitution, which will mean that the state can meaningfully limit compensation and address one of the major obstacles to land reform,” he said.
Mr Mncwabe said land reform was not only about the “returning farms, rebuilding homes but also more about restoring dignity”.
The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF’s) Mr Moses Mbatha made it very clear that his party was for “expropriation of land without compensation”.
“As EFF we believe that expropriation without compensation is the answer, it (the land) was stolen through the barrel of the gun, our people do not want charity, they want ownership of land,” said Mr Mbatha.
“Returning land to its rightful owners requires a bold decision, which has been missing for the past 23 years. Today our people are left with the Constitution, they cannot eat the Constitution, cannot settle in the Constitution, we need the land to settle, to change their lives for the better,” he said.
There was an uproar in the National Assembly when Freedom Front Plus Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Pieter Groenewald, suggested that the expropriation of land without compensation could result in a civil war.
“If anybody thinks they can take land without compensation, you are living in a dream, if you want to start a civil war, do that,” he said, prompting various “points of order” from fellow MPs and calls for him to withdraw the “threats”.
Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the systematic dispossession of land belonging to the indigenous people by the settlers will take a long time to resolve.
“The ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ approach is only one part of the equation, the Inkatha Freedom Party calls for a broader approach within the parameters of the rule of law, currently the land reform programme is performed very poorly,” said Mr Hlengwa.
He said land reform must be seen as part of nation-building and a reconciliation responsibility for all South Africans.
Mr Mncedisi Filtane of the United Democratic Movement blamed the Constitution for “giving more meaningful rights to the minority and less to the majority”.
Ms Deirdre Carter of the Congress of the People said the “power to expropriate doesn’t depend on the willingness of the seller”.
The Democratic Alliance doesn’t believe in expropriation without compensation and blaming the “willing buyer, willing seller” policy for government’s failures.
DA MP Mr Ken Robertson said: “We know the Constitution is sound but policy implementation is a problem.”
The Deputy Minister of Rural Development, Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, said the land reform programme created the possibility of communities controlling land through the Communal Property Act.
Mr Jeremy Cronin, the Deputy Minister of Public Works, said there was no need to amend the Constitution for land reform. “What we need is to expedite the Expropriation Bill”.
By Sakhile Mokoena
13 June 2017