Land: The people speak – Parliament making South Africans look like fools, Sedibeng hearing told

2018-07-27 18:00
Joint committee co-chair Vincent Smith. (File, Misheck Makora, Daily Sun)

Joint committee co-chair Vincent Smith. (File, Misheck Makora, Daily Sun)

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The narrative that leaders in South Africa are to blame for failure to resolve the land question was placed under the spotlight once again during Parliament's Joint Constitutional Review Committee's stop in Sedibeng in Gauteng.

The committee is currently holding public hearings throughout the country into whether section 25 of the Constitution should be amended to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

Residents of the Vaal and surrounding areas displayed patience and a high level of tolerance as members of different communities stood up to share their views on the issue and whether South Africa's Constitution in its current form allowed for expropriation.

READ: What white people need to understand about The Land

Joint committee co-chair Vincent Smith even praised those in the Sedibeng town hall for their "robust" contribution.

"This hearing today is the best that we've had since we started. I can tell you that."

"No farmer in their right mind believes that things are fair in the country at the moment," started off third-generation farmer Mike Shapiro.

Training for farmers

The farmer said he did not believe the Constitution needed to be amended and blamed government's lack of the necessary "political will" for the stalled land reform process.

Shapiro said he spent three years trying to set up meetings to get people involved in his farm. He told the public hearing he wanted to train people for at least five years and would eventually allow them to take it over.

"I find it quite insulting that Parliament is making the majority of this country look like idiots," he said.

Shapiro added that when someone bought a company, its management stuck around for at least five years to do a proper handover. 

"Why is this not done with farming? How do you give someone land and nothing else? I don't understand it," said Shapiro.

"I grew up on a farm. I know the guys can do the job, they need help," he said.

Racial disparities

Shapiro advocated for the continuation of the willing seller, willing buyer principle.

"It's political and nothing else. They say they want land. You're not going to give them land, you are suggesting that the state owns the farm," said Shapiro who continued to accuse Parliament of making fools of citizens.

Traditional healers also stated their case, declaring that they needed space to grow their produce for multi-purposes and needed offices to meet with their patients. Many others raised concerns over the indignity of their lived experience because of not having access to their ancestral land.

Young people also made their voices heard, with some saying they no longer wanted to be job seekers, while others said they wanted greater opportunities which they believed would be unlocked through access to land. One of them was graduate Tsabeng Ramalope who highlighted the challenges which perpetuated economic exclusion for black graduates versus their white counterparts.

"When we graduate we have to go build and fix our parents' homes, but when white people graduate they go to their father's company and start work," she said.

The joint committee will make its last Gauteng stop in Tshwane on Saturday before going to the Western Cape next week.

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Read more on:    vincent smith  |  gauteng  |  land expropriation  |  land hearings  |  land

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