Land: De Doorns protests a 'litmus test' for what could come, MPs told

2018-10-25 18:16
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The disruptive protests in the farming community of De Doorns in 2012 and 2013 were "a litmus test of what is to come over the land question", the African Farmers' Association of South Africa (Afasa) told MPs on Thursday.

Afasa president Vuyo Mahlati presented the organisation's written submission during public hearings on the proposed amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to Parliament's Joint Constitutional Review Committee.

In its submission Afasa supported the proposed amendment.

READ: Landless residents threaten sleepover outside Luthuli House

The organisation bemoaned the lack of "meaningful" transferal of land to indigenous South Africans as an "affront to the dignity of our people".

"It is a lethal cocktail for social upheaval [and a] festering wound that needs to be attended to urgently".

According to Afasa, a constitutional amendment will help to deal with what the organisation calls the "simmering discontent over land ownership patterns".

EFF MP Tebogo Mokwele prodded Mahlati on whether she concurs with concerns that a possible race war could erupt should land expropriation without compensation be allowed.

A cautious Mahlati said she did not believe this would necessarily happen, but successful land reform would require attention to certain structural failures. 

'A matter of time before blood is shed'

Mahlati said the lack of state capacity to properly enforce land policies and various structural inadequacies of the current land reform system were at the root of the failure of land reform.

"The principle of willing buyer, willing seller is at the root of government getting unproductive land. So, our black farmers are still at the mercy of whites."

According to her, about 98% of water rights are in the hands of white people.

"We need to align water rights with land transfers," she said.

Azapo president Strike Thokoane, who expressed Azapo's support for the proposed amendment allowing for expropriation without compensation, was more direct in his warning.

He cautioned that the seeds of discontent were being sowed and explosive land grabs were already occurring.

"The land issue is pitting our people against each other. It is just a matter of time before people go and occupy a Van der Merwe's farm and then there will be bloodshed."

He urged Parliament to address the situation.

Race issues also made for some explosive interactions among MPs when certain presenters came under fire during the hearings.

Presenters accused of being 'in white pockets'

When the Land Access Movement of South Africa made its submission, EFF MP Floyd Shivambu accused the organisation's general secretary Speaker Mahlake of relaying a position to MPs not "consistent with people who are landless".

Shivambu also questioned the positions presented to MPs by those "accompanied by whites" at public hearings.

Lamosa's white lawyer accompanied Mahlake to the hearings. UDM MP Mncedisi Filtane accused Mahlake of being "in white pockets".

The meeting quickly spiralled into insults when FF Plus MP Corne Mulder objected, labelling the MP's statement as racist and inflammatory.

Co-chairperson Stanford Maila had to intervene and remind MPs they are in the meeting to listen to the views  of members of the public and not to agree or disagree.

The public hearings continued.

Read more on:    land expropriation  |  land hearings  |  land

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