We can't wait for Parliament's go-ahead before expropriating land without compensation - Nkoana-Mashabane
Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says she is preparing for a test case to expropriate land without compensation.
Speaking at the National Forum for Dialogue on Land, Heritage and Human Rights in Johannesburg on Tuesday, she said that her department would not wait for the completion of the constitutional review process in Parliament, expected to happen in August.
"We cannot wait for Parliament," Nkoana-Mashabane said.
"If we need to expropriate your land, we are going to do that, because it is in the Constitution… there are elements that say, if you live in Brussels and you are using the land that should feed my children for speculation, we will do that," she said.
The National Forum brought together government, business and legal experts to discuss the emotive issue of land expropriation without compensation, following a parliamentary motion to review section 25 of the Constitution.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, who first put forward the motion that was later amended by the ANC, want section - which deals with property rights - amended and for the state to own all land.
Contributors at the dialogue included Minerals Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, Constitutional Review Committee member Mathole Motshekga, advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi, farmers and members of the African Farmers Association of South Africa.
Nkoana-Mashabane said her department had already identified the land that they would expropriate. She, however, would not disclose where it was, arguing that it would warn the affected owners to prepare for a legal challenge.
"If I tell you now, you going to have some spanners put on the wheel and make my life a little bit difficult. Let me act on the things I need to act on, and then let’s move on.
'We should put Constitution to the test'
"Some are going to offer to be lawyers to help defend those people, and I would have started a problem and not a solution for myself, and I refuse to do that," she said.
Nkoana-Mashabane added that there were elements of the Constitution that already allowed for expropriation of land without compensation, which the previous ANC administration had not used. She said they now had the "will" to go ahead.
"We should always put this book we love so much, called the Constitution, to the test to serve our people," she said.
The ANC was deeply divided over the issue ahead of its December elective conference, that eventually adopted the resolution to expropriate land without compensation, with some arguing that it was not necessary to tamper with the Constitution.
Nkoana-Mashabane said it was unacceptable that, after 24 years of democracy, and R50bn in government expenditure on land restitution, land ownership patterns had not yet changed, with majority of land still owned by white people.
She called for law enforcement agencies to act against land grabs currently underway, although she added that illegal occupation of land had been sparked by desperation, especially in urban areas.