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A member of the Rural and Land Development Committee, Ms Nosilivere Winnie Magadla, has called on South Africans and the media not to confuse the current land amendment public hearings with the Constitutional Review Committee’s public hearings.

Addressing more than 300 citizens at the Vereeniging Theatre in Vereeniging, Ms Magadla explained the difference between the two processes. "We are here to consult and involve citizens in the process to reopen land claims while the Constitutional Review Committee is looking at amending section 25 of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation," she said.

The hearing is being attended by young and old men and women, farmers and farm workers. Many people who addressed the parliamentary delegation expressed the view that land claims must result in economic empowerment for all community members. Some rejected the Land Amendment Bill, saying that people must not buy back land stolen from their forefathers.

The Speaker of the Midvaal Local Municipality, Councillor Freddie Peters, called on all South Africans to find common ground and to move forward together. He rejected moves to extend the deadline for land claims as “it impacts negatively on farmers, labourers and their families, the broader community and the South African economy”.

Skhumbuzo Mazibuko, representing the Black First Land First (BLF) political party, gave the government six months to take back all land in the hands of white people or they (the BLF) will call on the citizens not to vote in 2019. He said the BLF also rejected payment for any land.

A local youth leader, Mr Bayanda Radebe, rejected the term “land claims” and said "government must not reclaim but reposses" land which belonged to their parents and grandparents.

Although some people raised concerns about the process, many people present at the public hearings expressed their appreciation to Parliament for consulting them on the land issue. However, they called on government to work as a cohesive unit with local municipalities, provincial and national governments joining Parliament in making a success of this process.

By Brent Simons
28 June 2018