Johannesburg - Expropriation without compensation is “nonsense”, African National Congress MP and former minister Derek Hanekom reiterated on Wednesday morning.
“It will do very serious damage to our economy and is seriously unjust,” he said. He then joked that he is not allowed to use the word “nonsense” any more, after being sanctioned at the ANC’s policy conference on Tuesday.
Hanekom was speaking at the Agribusiness Africa conference at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg, where he urged delegates to be “prepared to stand up for what is right, and stand against what is wrong”.
His address followed an emotional two days at the ANC policy conference, where land reform has been one of the most divisive issues discussed.
Hanekom was forced to apologise at one point for labelling the motion “nonsense”. His opponents want him to face disciplinary action for his remarks.
The policy conference showed deep divisions within the ANC over the expropriation of land without compensation. The controversial motion was pushed through by President Jacob Zuma and his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
On Tuesday Hanekom - along with other senior leaders Enoch Godongwana, the head of the economic transformation sub-committee, and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan - argued passionately that the current Constitution is enough to address land reform.
But News24 reported that those arguing against the motion were outnumbered in a room full of Zuma allies. Sources told News24 the former tourism minister became emotional during a heated debate on the expropriation of land without compensation.
'They went for him as a pack'
“Hanekom was attacked when he stood up and said it was all nonsense and they all went for him as a pack,” said the source, who was in the economic transformation commission. He was also facing threats of disciplinary action.
Another source backing Ramaphosa also said Hanekom was “insulted” while presenting his argument that land expropriation without compensation is not going to work.
Godongwana then interjected and forced Hanekom to apologise.
Hanekom confirmed to Fin24 at the Agribusiness conference that the debate became quite heated. But he didn’t want to comment on the outcome, saying he would await this. However, he told the conference that "sanity had prevailed".
“Expropriation without compensation will have a serious impact on our economy,” he said. “Our Constitution is more than able to handle land reform if applied correctly.”
Hanekom believes the ANC’s policy conference is critical. He told delegates that when the land reform programme started back in 1994, he warned farmers that the biggest threat was not the programme itself, but what would happen if it failed.
Hanekom was in the trenches as minister of agriculture and land affairs from 1994 to 1999.
Farmers must help to drive land reform
“I said you must help us to make this a success, people will look to take harsher measures,” he said. “That unfortunately has become reality that now confronts us.”
He once again urged delegates, who included many farmers, to do more to drive land reform. Hanekom admitted that South Africa has not carried out land reform as well as it could, leading to the push for expropriation with compensation.
“The truth in our country is that our economy is not as competitive as it should be,” he said. “And we have huge racial disparity. This is not about white monopoly capital, it’s about leaving a legacy for the people of South Africa. We must address the exclusion of black people in the economy.”
He said South Africa’s stability would be threatened if the elite could not admit that there is a huge disparity which threatens to erupt at any time.