Johannesburg - Newly elected ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa has committed to land expropriation without compensation in a way that doesn’t undermine the economy, agricultural production and food security.
He delivered his closing address in the early hours of Thursday morning after policy debates at the ANC's 54th national conference delayed his maiden speech.
Ramaphosa’s talk of land redistribution received the loudest cheers and at times, he had to stop talking to wait for the applause to stop.
“This conference with overwhelming agreement, unanimous agreement has resolved that the expropriation of land without compensation should be among the mechanisms available to government to give effect to them… for redistribution”.
Ramaphosa referred to the 1913 Land Act in his speech, which reserved just 8% of land for black people.
“The issue of land has been a matter of great concern to our people whose land was forcibly taken away from them. It is a matter that has caused a great deal of pain and hardship and resulted in the poverty that we see in our nation today," he said.
Ramaphosa’s ‘New Deal’ economic plan promised to speed up land reform and farm worker tenure but fell short of advocating for expropriation of land without compensation.
His rival, ANC MP Nkosazna Dlamini-Zuma was emphatic during her bid to become president that expropriation of land will be implemented under the ANC.
The land question caused a ruckus inside the plenary hall where it was being debated. Chairperson of the Economic Transformation committee Enoch Godgonwana called the debate “rowdy” and said it almost collapsed the conference.
Delegates held opposing views, with the policy conference in June/July resolving that Section 25 of the constitution should be amended to allow for this or that the ‘just and equitable system’ – adopted in Mangaung 2012- is enough to redistribute land.
In a briefing earlier on Wednesday, Godongwana said he’s unable to detail when government will start working on changing the constitution.
EGFF secretary General Godrich Grade said on Twitter the party is committed to donating its voting seats in the parliament (6) to the ANC, as it will require a two thirds majority to undertake constitutional amendments.
In his closing address, Ramaphosa addressed a key message that he used on his campaign trail.
“We must also act fearlessly against alleged corruption and abuse of office, within our own ranks...
"Thank you for the confidence you have shown in me, I shall strive to serve our members, supporters and the nation with commitment and diligence. We accept without any reservation your clear instruction that we must work together undivided."
Ramaphosa closed the conference by thanking the support staff and praising President Jacob Zuma’s legacy.
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