Top MP: Revisit property rights

2012-05-16 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Internal divisions in the ANC over the possible scrapping of section 25 of the Constitution (the property clause) bubbled to the surface in Parliament yesterday.

Stone Sizani, former Eastern Cape premier and now a senior ANC MP chairing the parliamentary portfolio committee on rural development and land reform, attacked the constitutional protection of property rights.

Disagreeing with him, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said the principle of willing buyer, willing seller was ingrained in the South African market economy, and he was cautious about any possibility of amending the Constitution.

Nkwinti pointed out that expropriation could be used to acquire land, but said it was the exception and could not replace market mechanisms as the rule.

The differences between Nkwinti and Sizani, who sharply criticised Nkwinti’s department, were so clear that Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said Sizani was embarrassing the minister.

Sizani said section 25 of the Constitution was there only to protect land owners, who had to stop hiding behind it.

He called on the ANC to reopen land restitution claims, which closed in 1998, and for the provision that only land taken from black communities since 1913 should be considered for restitution to be revisited.

He linked the latter proposal to Freedom Front Plus leader Dr Pieter Mulder’s statement during the state of the nation address debate that black people did not always inhabit the western parts of the country.

Sizani said nothing was being done about the seizure of land that belonged to the Khoisan, whom white settlers had hunted like wild animals.

He said it was time for the ANC to change its thinking about land reform.

He also became the next senior ANC member to launch an attack on the judiciary, saying it was a misconception that judges were the embodiment of moral correctness, as the courts had previously denied people their property rights.

Sizani said he believed that legal provisions for discouraging the subdivision of agricultural land should be revoked.

He also believed that “now is the time for opening the borders of the bantustans so that the residents can occupy the rest of the country”.

Nkwinti ignored Sizani in his reply, but Democratic Alliance MP Athol Trollip said Sizani was misleading parliament, a statement allowed without objection by the ANC.

Trollip also asked Nkwinti to crack down on corruption and mismanagement in his department.

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