NEWS & ANALYSIS

Govt has already undertaken to return land to the people - ANC

Office of Chief Whip says EFF motion is misplaced, constitution gives great leeway on the matter

ANC CAUCUS STATEMENT ON EFF MOTION TO ESTABLISH AN AD HOC COMMITTEE TO AMEND SECTION 25 OF THE CONSTITUTION

28 FEBRUARY

The ANC in Parliament appreciates the need to take bold steps that will transform our economy including land ownership and reform. This need arises out of the slow progress government has made in addressing land reform and restitution in South Africa. It is for this reason that the ANC led government is currently in the process of introducing further legislation to enable faster land reform.

The ANC does not agree with any notion of the country expropriating land without compensation. We believe that just and equitable compensation is the solution in resolving the land question in South Africa, like in other African Countries such as Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi and Namibia. The land question must be addressed in a manner that will unite South Africans and not done haphazardly.

The draft motion sponsored by the EFF today in the National Assembly fails to understand the very powers of section 25 of the Constitution it seeks to amend.

Firstly Section 25 calls for security of tenure, of ownership, in cases where the apartheid past has left millions of South African’s, and women in areas of communal land tenure for instance, with insecure property rights.

Secondly Section 25 empowers expropriation in the “public interest”. It defines public interest as including “the nation’s commitment to land reform and reforms to bring about equitable access to ALL South Africa’s natural resources; and [it adds] property is not limited to land”

Under sub-clause (5) of the Property Clause the Constitution says: “The state MUST take reasonable legislative and other measures…to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.”

And under sub-clause (8) of the Property Clause, the Constitution declares: “No provision of this section may impede the state from taking legislative and other measures to achieve land, water and related reform, in order to redress the results of past racial discrimination…”

Former Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke on Clause 25 stated that it is in fact radical in both spirit and in the letter and that government has, so far, failed to test the radical transformational reach of the idea of compensation for expropriation being based on the “just and equitable” principle.

Parliament already has a Constitutional Review Committee and it is therefore the responsibility of that committee to review the Constitution when it is necessary. Furthermore, Parliament has already established a High Level Panel whose mandate is to investigate the impact of legislation in respect of land reform, restitution and security of tenure among other areas. This Panel has undergone an extensive public participation process all over the country to get submissions on this matter. Thus, as Parliament, we have an obligation to receive the report of this panel and process it accordingly.

In relation to land reform, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has already undertaken to do a pre-colonial audit of land ownership, use and occupation patterns. Once the audit has been completed, a single law will be developed to address the issue of land restitution and the necessary constitutional amendments will be undertaken to effect this process.

Furthermore, Parliament is already in the process of reviewing the Expropriation Bill which was sent back by President Jacob Zuma for further public participation. The Expropriation Bill clearly states that property may be expropriated only in terms of law of general application for public purpose and in the public interest, subject to compensation which must be just and equitable. In other words compensation is not going to be based on market value only but it must be just and equitable, meaning it must take into cognisance of all relevant circumstances.

The motion of the EFF is not only misplaced but also overlooks various programmes and reviews underway to ensure that land is returned to the people of South Africa as stated in the Freedom Charter.

Statement issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, 28 February 2017