Guest Column

‘The ANC must die for land to be returned’

2017-03-26 06:34
Aaron Dlamini (49) is one of 13 farmers involved in a mentorship programme run by nonprofit organisation TechnoServe in Steynsdorp. Picture: Leon Sadiki

Aaron Dlamini (49) is one of 13 farmers involved in a mentorship programme run by nonprofit organisation TechnoServe in Steynsdorp. Picture: Leon Sadiki

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Dali Mpofu

If the analysis of the land question given by my former comrade Enoch Godongwana (Voices, March 19 2017 – “We must not be reckless”), reflects official ANC thinking on this key issue, then we must forget about equality in South Africa – at least, until the removal of the ANC from government, which, fortunately, is imminent.

Godongwana’s central thesis can be summed up into five interrelated arguments:

- The limits of section 25 of the Constitution have not been tested in the courts;

- A yearning for an “orderly land reform process”;

- The mooted removal of section 25 will scare off investors;

- ANC MPs were correct to reject recent calls by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to amend section 25; and

- South Africans must unite to defeat “the growing global phenomenon of populism”.

Quoting retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke’s correct lamentation of the startling fact that the ANC government, among others, has hitherto dismally failed to test the limits of section 25 of the Constitution is hardly an excuse for a ruling party which went the other way and invented an unsolicited transformation-proof concept called the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle.

In this connection, the ANC remains the willing sellout.

That principle was the ANC’s idea of the “orderly land reform process” that Godongwana and his comrades strive for.

As if there is such a thing as orderly revolutionary change.

There was nothing orderly about how Africans were dispossessed of the land.

Why were successive colonial and racist regimes preceding 1994 not overly concerned about investors before spilling blood in the battlefields, imposing unjustifiable taxes, passing the 1913 and 1936 Land Acts, declaring so-called Group Areas and other influx laws enforced by forced removals, and other forms of brutality?

If investors were not put off by such atrocities, why would they turn their backs on democratic South Africa merely for amending our own Constitution to deal with our historical baggage and to bring about restorative justice and equality?

Why would they be so offended if we dare to restore the dignity of Africans?

One of the key mistakes made by the apostles of orderly land reform is their failure to take a historical approach to the land question. How did we get here?

They fail to distinguish between two separate but interwoven systems.

The first was the colonial deprivation of land, motivated by territorial contestations, agricultural ambitions and the development of the imperial economy – in short, settler colonialism.

The second happened mainly after the discovery of minerals, coupled with the need for farm labour – the so-called gold and maize complex – as well as the need to generate cheap labour for those two key primary economic sectors.

This, in short, is proletarianisation.

Both systems achieved their ends by employing the most severe forms of violence, oppression and disorder.

Far from being populist, the case made by the EFF for a united front of progressive forces in the essential and urgent reversal of the above is premised not on violence or Zimbabwe-style invasions by so-called military veterans, as our detractors cheaply insist, but on nothing more dangerous than a constitutional amendment, followed by congruent legislation and political will.

The democratic state would then distribute land to all South Africans, black and white, equitably and equally according to specific requirements, be they residential, commercial or agricultural.

Any investor who can fear the levels of certainty, stability, opportunity, human dignity, justice and reconciliation, which can be brought about as a result of this, would need their head examined.

Would such an investor prefer the present situation of homelessness, hopelessness, landlessness, disease, unemployment, drug abuse, violence, crime, social unrest and a lack of quality education as the more attractive alternative? I doubt it.

It is no mistake that for two decades, the ANC has elected to interpret section 25 as narrowly and harmlessly as possible.

It is because of what was secretly agreed upon during the economic negotiations between the ANC and white monopoly capital at the Convention for a Democratic SA in November 1993.

This pact was itself achieved by the dual methods of extolling the virtues of economic growth and trickle-down economics to the former revolutionaries, and simultaneously instilling in them the fear of the supposed looming backlash of fleeing investors if a more radical path was followed.

The acceptance of this false and self-serving ideological dogma by the ANC spelt guaranteed and ever-increasing misery for millions of working class and poor South Africans till today.

This culture of empty promises, coupled with scaremongering, is now endemic in the ANC.

Godongwana repeatedly warns about the looming removal of section 25 when all that has been mooted is its amendment. There is a big difference, and he knows it.

But in case one is not scared enough by the removal scarecrow, he offers you the next bogeyman – populism, which must be urgently “defeated”.

If it is populist to call for the constitutionally based deployment of state power to expropriate land without compensation whenever it is legally sound and appropriate to do so, then call me a proud populist.

What is laughable is that, as Godongwana rallies his troops for the essential defeat of populism, he waxes lyrical, as he must, about the urgent need for radical economic transformation.

Presumably, the investors have nothing to fear from this. So, the investors and the poorest of the poor ought to embrace radical economic transformation and unite towards the defeat of populism.

If the poor and landless African majority can buy into this ideological myopia, God save us all.

The ANC has abrogated to itself the role of a 21st-century Nongqawuse – and we are expected, again, to believe that by burning our economic and intellectual assets at the stake, the ancestors will arise from the dead and rescue us from imperialist economic subjugation, nowadays known as the globalisation of capitalism.

Naturally, the call for land expropriation without compensation becomes what Godongwana calls a “meaningless, self-serving populist slogan” when articulated by the EFF, but not when it is repeated, albeit vacuously, by investor-friendly and exemplary leaders such as President Jacob Zuma, ANC Youth League head Collen “Oros” Maine and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

These “leaders” suggest that the ANC should have voted with the populists.

The truth is, of course, that they and Godongwana belong to bitterly opposed factions of the terminally ill ANC. None of them has any interest whatsoever in the return of the land.

The “radical” rhetoric from Zuma, Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo and the like is a ploy to create a platform for the Dlamini-Zuma or Gupta faction, answerable to the Premier League, and to portray the other ultraliberal wing, answerable to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and their white funders – let us call them the Ruptas – as less revolutionary.

Whoever wins, the day after the ANC’s upcoming December conference, you will not hear anything about radical economic transformation or land redistribution.

Instead, you will hear about the need to keep investors happy, at whatever human cost to the poor and the landless people in the rural areas and squatter camps.

Do not be fooled, South Africa: Godongwana’s diatribe is not an attack on the EFF.

It is a thinly veiled attack on Zuma and his acolytes like Dlodlo, Oros, Dlamini and other overnight radicals, not to mention their drum majorettes like Mzwanele Manyi.

We must ask Zuma and his faction: If you believe in radical economic transformation and land expropriation without compensation, why did you oppose these very things at the 2010 ANC national general council in Durban, and why did you liquidate the 2011 ANC Youth League?

Similarly, we ask the faction headed by Ramaphosa, Godongwana and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan this: If section 25 allows for land redistribution, as you argue, why must we believe that a party which has failed to realise it in 23 years, and which has adopted the neoliberal National Development Plan, can even begin to return the land?

And why are investors so comfortable with your version of radicalism?

The truth is, there is no ANC faction which will return the land.

In fact, there is no ANC. The ANC died in Polokwane in 2007 and, as will happen to most of us, was buried back at its birthplace of Mangaung in the Free State, in December 2012.

The unveiling of the tombstone will be in December 2017.

The ghost of the ANC, and all its factions, must fall. Like the biblical sacrificial lamb, the ANC and its continental counterparts needed to die so that Africa might live.

Mpofu is national chairperson of the EFF. For a full version, visit

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  land


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