The National Assembly has passed a motion brought by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader and Member of Parliament Mr Julius Malema to have section 25 of the Constitution amended in order to intensify land redistribution though the introduction of “expropriation of land without compensation”.
Mr Malema’s motion was debated in the National Assembly on Tuesday, 27 February 2018, and received support from a majority of parties, with opposition from the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Congress of the People (Cope), the Freedom Front Plus and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).
In his motion, the EFF leader proposed amendments to section 25 of the Constitution to make it legal for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation. He also proposed the establishment of an ad hoc committee to process the intended amendment for Parliament to conduct public hearings to get the views of ordinary South Africans.
The African National Congress (ANC) supported the motion, but proposed that it should be the work of Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee to review section 25. It has until 30 August 2018 to complete this work.
Opening the discussion on the motion in the National Assembly, Mr Malema said there was nothing wrong in changing the Constitution in order to correct historical injustice. “It is not unconstitutional to amend the Constitution. The Constitution actually allows that.”
Mr Malema gave MPs a history lesson, starting with the arrival of European settlers in the 1660s who dispossessed people of their land. “They came here arguing that simply because our people could not produce title deeds, the land that they had been living on for thousands of years was therefore not theirs. The time for reconciliation is over. It is now time for justice. We don’t seek revenge. We don’t wish for their suffering. We are saying let us close this once and for all. Pay no one for land acquired illegally,” Mr Malema said.
Mr Malema also argued that developing a food security policy will depend on land redistribution and ownership. “Our people must get the land back before we debate food security,” he said.
“Investors want policy certainty and we will ensure that by applying the Constitution to expropriate land without compensation. Those who don’t agree, continue to ridicule our struggle because they don’t know what it feels like to lose land. Let today be the day for black unity,” he said.
Former Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr Gugile Kwinti (moved to the Department of Water and Sanitation of the eve of the debate), said the ANC supported the call for expropriation of land without compensation. “We agree with the principle of the EFF’s motion on land without compensation. It is also in line with the conference resolution of the 54th national conference of the ANC,” said the Minister.
The DA said expropriation of land without compensation is not a solution, with DA MP Mr Ken Robertson arguing that “it fundamentally undermines property laws, and is a serious risk”.
Mr Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus said “there will be unforeseen circumstances not in the interest of South Africa”, should the move to expropriate land without compensation be realised. “I thoroughly agree with the narrative that to say the land was stolen is false. If we want to debate in a responsible manner, we must stop the many interpretations of history.”
Cope leader Mr Mosiuoa Lekota said the motion seeks to divide South Africa on the basis of something that happened long before the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955. “Those who think that equality in our times means blacks must dominate over whites are wrong. Who is not our people? The Freedom Charter says South Africa belongs to all of us – white, black. Now this motion seeks to divide us on the basis of something that happened long before 1955,” said Mr Lekota.
Mr Themba Godi, African People’s Convention MP, reminded his colleagues of the brutal history of dispossessions. “Let’s not forget history, the history of conquest, of land dispossession through wars of colonial conquest by white people, through forced removals, through slave labour in the farms, prisoners sold to the farms.”
He also paid homage to the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania for “having endured ridicule, insults and isolation because of its stand on the land question”. In the 1994 elections, the PAC slogan was “Land first, all shall follow”.
“The PAC manifesto also said there shall be land expropriation without compensation, except compensation for improvements on the farm, not for the land itself. Well, two decades later, we seem to be making progress,” said Mr Godi.
Mr Andries Tlouamma of Agang SA said his party supported the motion without reservation. “We should not fear those who are nostalgic for the era of Verwoed. These remnants of the Broederbond will never give land for free. We must amend section 25 of the Constitution and speed this process to avoid land grabs or anarchy.”
The motion was opposed by Reverend Kenneth Meshoe of the ACDP, who said expropriation of land without compensation has historically destabilised economies, as it destroys investor confidence and scares foreign investors.
“The fact that the apartheid government forcefully dispossessed black people of their land does not justify the democratic government repeating the same evil. The ACDP will not support this motion before us because we believe expropriation of land without compensation is another forced takeover of land, which involves paying evil with evil. Two wrongs don’t make a right,” argued Rev Meshoe.
28 February 2018