Land: The people speak – Malema calls for calm as speakers are booed, fears of 'economic suicide' raised

Land expropriation without compensation will not solve South Africa’s economic problems, Hennie Laas of the Volkstrust farmers’ association said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a public hearing into land reform in Ermelo, the manager of Mpumalanga Agri warned that land expropriation can in actual fact be detrimental to the economy and deepen South Africa’s problems, Netwerk24 reported.

"All roleplayers in the private and public sector must instead work together to create a country where all South Africans can prosper," Laas said.

The hearing is part of countrywide public hearings into the amendment of Article 25 of the Constitution that allows for land expropriation without compensation.

READ: Land: The people speak – 'We are not against white people, but the land must be given to black people'

EFF leader Julius Malema, who attended the hearing in Mpumalanga on Tuesday, at one stage had to ask the crowd to respect the views of all speakers after some speakers were booed.

"You may not agree with some speakers here, but you have to listen and have a thick skin," Malema said.

A representative of the Transvaal Agriculture Union of South Africa (TAU SA) said unemployment and poverty need to be alleviated through economic growth and not land expropriation without compensation.

Other speakers, however, said South Africans cannot depend on the economy in its current state to help lighten poverty.

Anton Mkanzazi of Bethal said the current structure of the economy cannot alleviate poverty and other avenues, like land expropriation, need to be adopted.

"Where I come from the mines are making billions of rands and still the majority of the people live in poverty in the townships," said Mkanzazi.

Hennie Bekker, district coordinator for AfriForum Mpumalanga said the government wants to implement land expropriation without compensation to cover up their own failures with service delivery.

"The government haven’t given any clear indication of how the land will be redistributed."

Bekker also said it is misleading to say that land in South Africa was "stolen". He argued that traditional leaders legally sold the land to settlers.

READ: Land: The people speak – Black and white welcome at hearings, says Constitutional Review Committee

Apart from Malema, other politicians present at the public hearing were DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota and EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee. Local farmers were also in attendance.

The hearings allow for people to voice why they agree or disagree that Art. 25 of the Constitution must be amended. Each speaker gets 3 minutes to give reasons for their choice and offer solutions.

The Mpumalanga hearing on Tuesday heard among other arguments that white people stole the land and need to be arrested. Some people asked for farms to be nationalised, while others said white people should not be compensated.

At the hearing in Botshabelo, Bloemfontein on Monday, a small-holding farmer warned that South Africa could most likely end up like Zimbabwe if the country goes ahead with land expropriation without compensation.

Barnard Molenyane, 59, who farms on a small holding outside Bloemfontein, said land expropriation without compensation "is economic suicide".

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