The people of Chris Hani District Municipality told the delegation of the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution that prolonging the gathering of views on how the Constitution should be amended to allow land expropriation is unacceptable, as that land was violently taken from its rightful owners.

White settlers arrived uninvited in South Africa, they argued, and took land to settle without the permission of the owners of that land. During the public hearings on how to draft the legislation, people said that although South Africa is a constitutional democracy, a long public participation process is not justified.

Some residents told the delegation that it was regrettable to continue participating in the public hearing about the issue when the bones of leaders such as King Ngubengcuka of AbaThembu, the great-great-grandfather of the late President of South Africa, Mr Nelson Mandela, and King Hintsa of AmaGcaleka, who was slaughtered by the colonial army, are shaking in their graves, as their land is still not returned to them.

Representatives from various organisations were present at the hearings, including representatives from the traditional leaders’ forum, trade unions, civic associations, farm dwellers and farmers’ associations.

Mr Zolani Nyamela, representing the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party, said his organisation calls for the removal of the entire Section 25 from the Constitution, as it impedes land reform in South Africa. “The call for the amendment of the section is a call for reformism of the commandment of poverty for Africans. Legislation contained in that section is the basis for the permanent oppression of Africans. It must be deleted entirely from the Constitution.”

Mr Solomzi Mntungwa of Engcobo Farm Dwellers’ Association said their association also supports the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution. The association proposes that the land must be under the custodianship of a committee elected by the people. “We want the land to be under the custodianship of a structure that is for the people and objective. The committee will not be influenced by a certain political ideology,” said Mr Mntungwa.

A representative of the United Democratic Movement, Mr Nkosinathi Qubuda, said that Parliament should not take a long time to draft the law. “There is clear evidence of violent grabbing of the land by settlers from its owners,” he said. “We are not saying that the perpetrators of the theft of land must be arrested and we are not demanding compensation from them, even though it should be them who pay compensation to us for the suffering they caused us.”

Mava Lukani
16 March 2020