South African D-Day
6 December 2021
South Africa’s constitutional democracy comes under existential threat tomorrow as the “second-reading debate” on the motion to amend the Constitution takes place, concluding in a vote in the National Assembly. As a headline in the Sowetan put it, “December 7 could be D-Day for land expropriation without compensation”.
The EFF initially tabled the 18th Constitutional Amendment, which was slightly altered and adopted by the ANC, and both parties have driven it through Committee. While attempting to undermine property rights enshrined in the Constitution both parties have suffered at the polls. Collectively the ANC-EFF got 68.5% of the vote in 2019, but only 56.5% (proportional representation) in the latest nationwide municipal elections.
The IRR is unsurprised at the decline in support. Said Gabriel Crouse: “Given the choice between cutting all people’s basic rights to ownership and growing a more secure ownership regime for all, most people want the latter plain and simple.”
The choice is as clear as Julius Malema (MP) described it in 2018, when he said, “Death is the first price we are prepared to pay; the second price we are prepared to pay for this land is poverty”.
Most South Africans, however, are not prepared to pay the price of poverty for a revanchist amendment to the Bill of Rights. In a 2021 poll commissioned by the IRR respondents were asked “Do you prefer a political party which promises faster growth and more jobs, or one which promises land expropriation without compensation as redress for past wrongs?”
79% said they preferred “faster growth and more jobs”, while only 21% said they prefer “expropriation without compensation”. While Malema is rhetorically “prepared” for other people to suffer poverty and die so that basic human rights can be replaced, most South Africans are deeply opposed to this notion.
While the EFF and ANC would both like to empower the state to take away private property from people that have broken no law, they disagree on a technical point. The ANC wants the 18th Constitutional Amendment to allow “certain” land to be taken into state “custodianship”, while the EFF wants “all” land to be nationalised.
This disagreement may scupper the amendment, since both parties would need to vote together for a two-thirds majority to be reached. However, even if both parties do vote together this will fail to reach a three-quarters majority.
Said Gabriel Crouse: “Backed by hundreds of thousands of petitions we argued to parliament that this amendment is so drastic that it fundamentally derogates from the Rule of Law, meaning a three-quarters majority is necessary. On this basis, and several others, we will tackle the 18th Constitutional Amendment if Parliament is reckless enough to pass it. Every South African’s prosperity is at stake.”
Issued by Gabriel Crouse on behalf of IRR, 6 December 2021