Land expropriation: Thoko Didiza will chair ad hoc committee on section 25

2018-12-07 16:24
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu addresses the media on the ANC caucus's eventful year in Parliament. (Jan Gerber/News24)

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu addresses the media on the ANC caucus's eventful year in Parliament. (Jan Gerber/News24)

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The ANC will "not blink" in its debate with the EFF over land expropriation when the ad hoc committee on amending section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation gets going, said ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu on Friday.

The EFF proposes that all land must be nationalised while the ANC has put forward a policy based on a mixed ownership model.

Mthembu was providing the media with an overview of the ANC caucus' work during an "eventful" 2018. He also announced that the ANC would nominate House chairperson Thoko Didiza to chair the ad hoc committee. 

"She is a capable lady who has experience in this field," he said.

The well-respected Didiza was appointed minister of agriculture and land affairs in 1999 in former president Thabo Mbeki's Cabinet.

Resolution adopted

The National Assembly adopted the Joint Constitutional Review Committee's report recommending an amendment on Tuesday, followed by the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday. 

On Thursday the National Assembly adopted a motion brought by Mthembu to establish an ad hoc committee to draft the amendment.

READ: Another step forward for land expropriation process as NCOP adopts report

The ad hoc committee will consist of 11 voting members of the National Assembly, six from the ANC, two from the DA, one from the EFF and two from other parties.

There will also be 14 non-voting members, with two from the ANC, one from the DA, one from the EFF and 10 from other parties.

ANC MP's Vincent Smith, Stan Maila, Rosina Semenya, Lindiwe Maseko and Pumzile Mnguni will be the ANC's voting members of the ad hoc committee, while Phumuzile Ngwenya-Mabila and Nono Maloyi will be non-voting members.

The other parties have not announced who will represent them on the ad hoc committee.

"Through this amendment, section 25 of the Constitution will make explicit that which is implicit in the Constitution, with regards to the expropriation of land without compensation, as a legitimate option for land reform, so as to address the historic wrongs caused by the arbitrary dispossession of land," reads Mthembu's statement.

Opposition

Parties opposed to an amendment, notably the DA, have been driving a narrative that the ANC takes it policy direction on land from the EFF.

In fact, the EFF and ANC differ substantially on land. The EFF wants all land in private ownership to be expropriated without compensation and to be held by the state as custodian.

In a forward-looking speech on Tuesday Smith said that expropriation without compensation would not be a panacea and that there is a need for a "policy overhaul". He said that the ANC advocates a mixed ownership model, with private, state and communal ownership. 

At a press conference shortly after the vote, EFF president Julius Malema described the mixed ownership model as "based on confused economic policy" and said the EFF would not budge on its policy that all land must be nationalised. 

"The ANC will present its position, we will present our position and we will vote when the time is right.

"As long as I'm here, I will never present a proposal to the EFF that says we must agree with a mixed ownership of the land," Malema said on Tuesday.

Original sin

Mthembu said the ANC never pushed for the nationalisation of land so that the state becomes the custodian of all land.

"We are not the EFF. We are not agreeing with the EFF that the state should be the custodian of all land."

He said an amendment should be affected to give land to the dispossessed, those who need it, and emerging farmers.

"(If you nationalise all land) you might as well commit the mistakes that have been committed by other countries. You might as well give the land to your cronies."

He said that was not the ANC's intention. The party's intention is to address the "original sin".

"It is a fight we'll have with the EFF," he said. "We can assure you, the ANC will not blink."

Ambitious date

For a constitutional amendment to pass, a two-thirds majority is needed in the National Assembly, meaning 267 votes. As things stand, the ANC will be three votes short if the EFF doesn't vote in favour of an amendment. However, it seems unlikely that it will come to a vote before the Fifth Parliament rises.

The motion adopted on Thursday sets the ad hoc committee's deadline as March 31, 2019, which Mthembu admitted was ambitious. He said by that date the committee could provide an update to the National Assembly, which can resuscitate the matter when the Sixth Parliament convenes.

He said the ad hoc committee would conduct a public participation process that would cover the length and breadth of the country. 

Mthembu also discussed how Parliament held the executive to account the past year – his personal highlight being the Eskom inquiry's non-partisan nature – key legislation that Parliament has passed, oversight and international outreach.

He said the lowest moment was the sitting a few weeks ago where racial insults were hurled and MPs came to blows.

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