Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota says he will continue to stand firmly by his view that there is no need to amend the Constitution or to expropriate land without compensation - even in the face of being called a disgrace and a sell-out.
Some South Africans who have attended public hearings in Mahikeng on Wednesday into the highly-emotive land issue, shared their disappointment in the anti-apartheid activist's unrepentant criticism of those calling for property clause in the Constitution to be amended.
Lekota, who is part of the Constitutional Review Committee holding hearings across the country, quietly listened to the criticism but defended his views when News24 asked for his comment.
"I don't know why they are saying I am a disgrace. Was Nelson Mandela a disgrace? Was Oliver Tambo a disgrace?" he asked.
"It's unfounded, a complete misunderstanding," he added.
The Cope leader, who was once a leader in the ANC, said South Africa's founding president and the ANC's longest-serving president were part of a collective that negotiated for the Constitution in its current form.
"All of us believed this was the best thing for our country," he said.
The Constitution has come under the spotlight following an EFF motion, which was supported by the ANC following its 54th national conference, to expropriate land without compensation.
Parliament has since mandated the committee to investigate whether there is a need to amend the Constitution.
Lekota explained that even leaders who were at the forefront when the Freedom Charter was founded in 1955, understood that the country could not only belong to black people.
"When we declared in the Freedom Charter that the land can be shared among those who work it, we didn't say blacks and what. We said those who work it. We accepted that we [would] have to live together in peace and harmony, together with everyone in this country," said Lekota.
The Cope leader, who also served time in Robben Island during the struggle for South Africa's liberation, said even after more than 13 years in jail, he never sought vengeance.
"I understood, even as I served my sentence, that I was not going to seek revenge the day we win democracy," said Lekota.
"I am still not looking for revenge. Mandela didn't ask for revenge after 27 years. He asked for reconciliation. So I only contributed 13-and-a-half years of my life there. Tambo spent more than 30 years of his life in exile and he negotiated this Constitution," continued Lekota.
He said Tambo sent Mandela to Sharpeville and the Constitution was signed with its much-debated Section 25.
Lekota added that the Constitution remained the only way to move the country forward.
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