Be clear on land redistribution

2018-06-17 12:26

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The ANC’s policy resolution on expropriation of land without compensation continues to be applauded by most sectors of our society yearning for radical economic transformation. The country is echoing unprecedented optimism and conviction as we welcome this game-changer within the political arena and ideological framework of our flourishing democracy.

This is nerve-racking for all of us – black and white – as it provokes extreme positive and negative reactions, depending on who would lose or gain from its outcomes. This contentious resolution has thrown our movement out of its comfort zone. It is a litmus test for the party’s capacity to accommodate diverse and sometimes conflicting interests of different sectors of our society.

It was always just a matter of time before we would face the reality of crossing yet another Rubicon to give impetus to our transformation agenda. This era is destined to produce either a new hallmark or the demise of the ANC, depending on its level of success.

Now that the moment of reckoning is finally upon us, we should accord a great sense of gratitude to President Cyril Ramaphosa and his team as they lead us through this daunting and obligatory task of restoring land to its indigenous owners. South Africans across all walks of life should embrace and assume ownership of this historic imperative so that we can forge ahead, united in diversity.

We ought to be frank and honest as we embark on this new socioeconomic path. It is of great concern that the ANC is yet to amplify the legal and technical methods through which land expropriation without compensation would be attained. The fact that a strategy through which this mission will be achieved remains a mystery is a clear indication that there is an elephant in the room.

The ANC should dedicate more effort to building confidence through articulating a coherent programme of action towards land expropriation without compensation. In the absence of this, our beloved movement will be stuck in paralysing political rhetoric and oxymorons. There is already a sectoral outcry that a radical policy shift would threaten food security and could result in massive job losses in rural areas if not managed properly.

During the first phase of the land reform programme (which was evidently not affordable), we have witnessed a significant decline in the productive capacity of many farms that were handed over to black communities. This remains an extremely painful experience that resulted in massive job losses, endemic poverty and negative economic development in rural areas.

Given these regrettable, shameful and painful experiences on land redistribution, the ANC government must approach the mammoth task at hand with extreme caution and due diligence. This delicate task should be based on principles of inclusive growth, maintaining or enhancing land productivity, creating sustainable jobs and growing our economy.

As we move towards the general elections next year, it would be in the best interests of the nation if the ANC clearly articulated the methods for delivering on the ever outstanding promise of returning land to its rightful owners.

Equally important is the willingness, ability and capacity of the ANC to articulate and implement a convincing and reassuring programme to address the fears of white people. In pursuit of national unity and social cohesion, the new era should genuinely safeguard and advance the constitutional rights and interests of white people as equal citizens of this country.

A huff-puff approach towards land restitution and redistribution would be catastrophic for the ANC, with its mission to renew itself and lead this developing country to unprecedented heights of prosperity and progress.

Matsila is a member of the ANC in good standing

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