Holomisa: We agree with ANC on land, as long as it's not electioneering

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa (Beeld)
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa (Beeld)

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader and MP Bantu Holomisa told his party's new members to take the ANC up on its offer of land reform, as reflected by ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s remarks last week.

Holomisa, who was once a member of the ANC, told them that they should work on the understanding that those from different political parties are "not necessarily our enemies".

His remarks, made during a briefing to welcome new members to his 21-year-old party in KwaZulu-Natal, appeared to be in support of recent statements made by ANC President Ramaphosa, who said his party would push for any necessary amendments to the Constitution that would empower government to expropriate land without compensation.

Ramaphosa, speaking in his capacity as ANC leader, made the announcement in a recorded video message at the conclusion of a two-day ANC lekgotla last week. 

His words drew strong reactions from some opposition parties, with DA leader Mmusi Maimane accusing the president of playing 'Russian Roulette' with the South African economy.

Ramaphosa was also questioned about why he made the announcements while Parliament was continuing with public land reform hearings intended to inform a Constitutional committee about whether the amendments would be necessary to allow for expropriation without compensation.

Holomisa said the patterns of land ownership had to change to reflect the diversity of the nation, but warned political leaders against using the land debate as a political proxy to gain traction ahead of the 2019 general elections.

"If we say the Constitution must be amended, what we should be saying to our people, as leaders of political parties, should be to explain how. We cannot be in the business of speaking to this issue just because of upcoming elections. And I feel sorry for the ANC if that is what they wish to do," said Holomisa.

Holomisa said he was confident that any vote in the National Assembly on the need to change the Constitution would go beyond the required two-thirds majority, as the UDM and other smaller parties agreed with the EFF and the ANC.

"We are given an opportunity to find a solution.

"While our members find their new homes, we urge them to work with traditional leaders, councillors, churches and other organisations to identify farm land and demand tools from government to plough and harvest in the new season," said Holomisa.

Holomisa also dismissed those who were in panic over the impact of any potential changes to the Constitution on food security. He said the past government assisted Afrikaans farmers generously and that this had no impact on food security.

"In the past, the Afrikaner government had to combat abject poverty and assisted Afrikaner farmers with agricultural projects, and nothing prevents us from doing the same. Government must do more and put our communities first," he said.

Holomisa said government also needed to clean up its act before expecting South Africans to trust them to expropriate land effectively and transparently.

"There is no way that we should be shy to say the state must intervene in a big way to address the backlogs and imbalances of the past.

"In doing so, we must be proud that they would use our taxes in the right way, not (like) currently, where they misuse and give tax resources away left and right," said Holomisa.

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