Amending Constitution won't solve land reform failures – Cope

2018-06-15 16:01
Cope unloading their submissions on expropriation without compensation at Parliament. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Cope unloading their submissions on expropriation without compensation at Parliament. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Cope says it rejects calls to amend the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation, saying everything that is needed for land reform is already in law.

The party held a press briefing on Friday to announce its submission on the emotive issue to Parliament, along with 220 000 public submissions collated through online platform "Dear South Africa" since December.

The deadline for written submissions closes on Friday. The Constitutional Review Committee will embark on its provincial consultation tour from June 26.

The party said that 56% of respondents that used the platform were against amending the Constitution.

"Cope firmly believes that the injustices and divisions of our past must be addressed by and within the framework set out in our Constitution, and in a peaceful and stable national atmosphere," Cope MP Deidre Carter said.

The country currently faced this "damaging impasse as a consequence of the abject failure of the ANC to give effect to the provisions of section 25 of the Constitution, among others".

Solutions through dialogue

Carter said that 96% of land reform failures were due to tenants not having adequate title deeds, and that was the fundamental problem needing redress.

The lack of a legislative framework, inability to pass the Expropriation Act, gross maladministration, malfeasance and poor state capacity, and corrupted "capture" of land projects by the ruling elite represented the "sad legacy" of the ANC, the party contended.

Cope supported dialogue as a way of finding solutions to government's failure, rather than allowing for the amendment of the Constitution.

ALSO READ: Gauteng prepares to expropriate idle privately owned land without compensation

"But, the ANC's factional power play resolution at its elective conference, the amendment of the Constitution, and its support of the EFF's motion... smacks of desperation and recklessness," said leader Mosiuoa Lekota.

The ANC has pressed the "nuke" button at a time when policy certainty was needed to ensure investor confidence, he said.

Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa's pleas that farming continue as normal, and that there was no reason to panic, "Who in their right mind will risk investment in this climate of uncertainty?" Lekota continued.

READ: 'Just be frank' with investors about land, says Ramaphosa's economic adviser

Cope's suggestions were three-fold: to give beneficiaries title deeds; to upgrade insecure land tenure, such as land under traditional authority; and the implementation of a new system to record ownership.

Some politicians 'playing peace-time heroes'

Lekota also warned that if the government was going to start taking the property of South Africans "without justification, we are going to open the wounds that were closed under (former) president Nelson Mandela".

"At the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), there were no winners or losers. We were all winners. There was no point in continuing to kill each other, as it would undermine future negotiations," he said.

"We are all South Africans. Before I am a Pedi South African, or Afrikaner South African, I am South African.

"What is wrong in this Constitution? You tell me," he said before wrapping up.

He ended with a parting shot to unnamed politicians who liked to "pretend they are peace-time heroes.

"They wear nice red berets, or green shirts and pants, and give themselves military titles. They went from shiny watches to talking war. Hayi man," the struggle veteran said mockingly.

The party would be delivering hard copies of the 220 000 submissions later on Friday, amounting to 1.5 tons of recycled paper.

Read more on:    cope  |  land  |  land expropriation

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