Guest Column

ANC's smoke and mirror show over land comes to an end

2018-08-03 11:49
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa

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Thandeka Mbabama

President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally shown his hand in his late-night address following the ANC's lekgotla and that hand was empty. After yet another round of job losses in South Africa, the President chose the ANC and electioneering over solving the real issues plaguing the land reform process.  

The current land debate that has swept the nation was an opportunity for citizens to speak out and express their frustrations about the lack of ownership of land by black South Africans. After the Ramaphosa's election, there was a feeling that the years of President Jacob Zuma could be put behind us and the nation collectively gave him a chance. But time after time Ramaphosa has chosen the ANC over the people of South Africa: just consider the increasing levies on petrol, the VAT increase, and now expropriation without compensation.

The land smoke and mirror show started last year at the ANC's December conference when the party indicated that they support expropriation without compensation. In the following months, guided by cheap populism and a desire to cover up their complete failure in land reform, they voted in support of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) reviewing Section 25 of the Constitution. 

While the DA voted against this, arguing that the problem was the ANC and not the Constitution, we approached the public hearings in good faith and set off to listen to the people of South Africa. The truth is that the ANC is simply disinterested in what people have to say because the whole process was a farce to begin with. They knew perfectly well that the true problem was an utter lack of political will on their part over the past 24 years.

Instead, they chose to go around the nation and pretend to listen. They couldn't even be bothered to complete the process that they initiated. They have shown complete contempt for the public participation process, for Parliament, and for constitutionalism. This means that the more than 800 000 submissions received by the CRC are completely disregarded and ignored.

The entire parliamentary operation and millions of rands were used as a tool to lie to South Africans who simply wanted to have their voices heard. It is also not surprising that the President made his announcement on the eve of the first hearings of the CRC in the Western Cape. Clearly, the ANC is afraid to hear what the people of the Western Cape has to say, as the DA-run province has the best-run land reform programme that truly empowers emerging farmers through ownership and partnership.

It has become abundantly clear that the ANC and Ramaphosa do not want to address the real structural impediments to land reform. The ANC chose to spend more money on VIP protection than on the land reform programme. The ANC chose to not capacitate the restitution commission which means people who have been waiting for decades will continue to wait. The ANC chose state custodianship over giving ownership to beneficiaries. Simply put, they chose themselves over poor and landless South Africans.

The DA will continue to fight in Parliament and in communities around South Africa for the right of people to own land.

- Thandeka Mbabama is the DA shadow minister of rural development and land reform and member of Parliament's Constitutional Review Committee.

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Read more on:    da  |  land reform  |  land expropiation  |  land hearings


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