Zikalala comment has no merit

2017-03-29 06:03

I REALLY am astonished that a person of the stature of Economic Development MEC and ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala can even suggest that the issue of the expropriation of land without compensation be decided by referendum.

If there was any merit in doing this, then surely other contentious issues such as the reimposition of the death penalty should, logically, also be put to the popular vote?

And while this ANC luminary is about it, why does he not also consider putting the abolition of income tax, VAT, e-tolls and other onerous civil obligations to the populist vote? A perfect example of an issue that should never have gone to the popular vote is playing itself out now in the form of the UK’s Brexit.

There are some issues that cannot and should never be decided upon by populist vote. The slow rate of land reform has little to do with reluctant or unco-operative landowners.

It has almost everything to do with incompetent state officials employed to oversee the land redistribution process. Anyone who has had the misfortune of having to deal with the offices of the Land Claims Commissioner will back this up readily.

All right-thinking South Africans accept that land reform is urgent and overdue. But blame for this state of affairs lies with the government and its inept organs of state, and its inability to apply and enforce the existing laws.

Expropriation without compensation is unconscionable. It would be a criminal act, just as the dispossession of land under forced removals of the apartheid government was. Expropriation with compensation is completely acceptable — where the state has no other option — and has been a tool of government for many years in this country.

JOHN CHRISTIE

Pietermaritzburg

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