Land debate targets the constitution

2018-04-01 06:20

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has accused the ANC of “dilly-dallying” around the issue of expropriating land without compensation.

The latest salvo from the EFF comes after senior ANC members Jeremy Cronin and Ronald Lamola revealed at the two-day national dialogue on land reform this week that there was an emerging view within the party not to amend the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The dialogues were hosted by the Gordon Institute of Business Science in partnership with Parliament, Nelson Mandela University and the In Transformation Initiative.

Although the parties agreed on expropriating land without compensation, the issue about whether the Constitution should be amended was a sticking point.

The EFF’s motion last month called for an ad hoc committee to review and amend section 25 of the Constitution, but after an agreement with the ANC, its motion was amended to allow for a constitutional review committee to consult on the matter.

In his speech on Tuesday, Lamola said the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) had had heated discussions about the amendment of the property clause when considering the issue.

There were concerns about nonexistent records relating to market value of property secured during apartheid, including data that “disappeared” after the Agriculture Credit Board was dissolved soon after apartheid ended.

“The ANC is not involved in the business of land grabs,” Lamola said, adding that there were mechanisms that could be considered when dealing with land reform, including a report produced by a high-level panel chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Cronin said government had been “nervous” to use its powers to expropriate land because the expropriation bill had not been enacted. The bill could be used to enforce land expropriation without amending the Constitution.

However, ANC MP Mathole Motshekga told City Press after the dialogues that the views shared within the party about not amending the Constitution were not the party’s final position.

“The ANC is a democratic organisation. It has committees and both of them [Lamola and Cronin] serve on a committee that is currently seized with this matter, but they will make a recommendation to the NEC. So the position of their committee is not necessarily the position of the ANC,” Motshekga said.

He said the ANC’s resolution to expropriate land without compensation did not answer the question about whether or not to amend the Constitution.

This, he said, was “why the ANC took the view that the matter be referred to the constitutional review committee”.

“So there is no contradiction on what we are saying. We must allow the constitutional review process,” he said.

Motshekga said the ANC had begun a process to find other mechanisms to deal with the issue.

“One of the mechanisms is the expropriation bill. So I think they are right in the sense that the [idea we had] so far was that we would use the expropriation bill. That was a parliamentary debate because that bill was before Parliament. But Parliament has gone a step ahead now to say the matter must be referred to the constitutional review committee, so you can see there are different stages and this thing is evolving.”

Motshekga said the bill could end up being used to expropriate land without compensation after public hearings, which means the Constitution would not need to be amended.

“It may be that, after listening to the people, the route to go would be that of the expropriation bill. These options are open,” Motshekga said.

Motshekga also told reporters at a media briefing that the ANC’s move to amend the EFF’s motion was made to ensure that society would not be further polarised by political parties on the issue.

Reacting to these developments, EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee said that, if the ANC opted to not amend the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, it would be exposing itself.

“Our people and the world will know the ANC for what it is. They will be rejected,” he said.

Gardee said the ANC had been “dilly-dallying” around the issue for years and had rejected the EFF’s initial motion on the issue.

“This should not [come as] a surprise. We are looking forward to participating in that committee and in public hearings. Let our people decide,” he said.

Gardee said Motshekga was wrong in saying that the constitutional review committee had curtailed parties because the EFF had not stopped agitating for land expropriation without compensation, and would continue doing so until the matter arrived at its “logical conclusion”, which was to return land to the people.

The party has organised rallies that will take place on Friday.

Gardee said one of the rallies would be held in Bloemfontein, where party leader Julius Malema would appear in court, as AfriForum had lodged a case against him. Another will take place in George in the Western Cape, where “the majority of land was occupied by whites, and blacks were squashed like rats in informal settlements”.

On the engagements at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, Gardee said the EFF respected parliamentary processes, but did not participate in “wishy-washy dialogues held in air-conditioned offices to discuss the land issue. Instead, [we will be] in townships, informal settlements and rural areas”.

Gardee said the EFF’s stance on land was not about narrow political gains and garnering votes, but about a public discourse. He said this was evident when black political parties were united in Parliament and showed solidarity to fight for the return of land.

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  land  |  constitution

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