Limpopo residents say land claims and reform failed

Proposed amendment 'the only recourse left for the country when it came to the land issue'

The Land: South Africa Speaks - Limpopo residents say land claims and reform failed

27 June 2018

Since land restitution and reform is a complete failure in South Africa, land expropriation without compensation is the only solution.

This is what some members of the public told the Constitutional Review Committee in Marble Hall on Wednesday, during Limpopo's first public hearing into the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution.

They felt the proposed amendment was the only recourse left for the country when it came to the land issue.

The day got off to a rocky start at 11:00 as some members of the public broke a metal detector. It was moved to one side as the public streamed into the hall, which wasn't big enough to accommodate everyone.

As members of the committee were introduced, ANC members of Parliament were booed, while EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema received applause.

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota received a mixed reaction.

Lack of will

Vasco Mabunda of the Nkuzi Development Association in Limpopo told the committee that land reform had failed because there was a lack of will on the part of the government to expedite the transfer of land from the minority to the majority.

He added that land claims and the "willing buyer, willing seller" format of reform has not been successful. Claims as far back as 20 years have still not been finalised.

Mabunda said farmers were also stubborn in negotiations, often not being a willing seller, which has slowed down the pace of land reform.

"They don't come to the party," said Mabunda.

While he was for the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution, he said an independent body should be established to deal with land transfers.

"If the state becomes the custodian of the land, I have a problem with that. The state has dismally failed us with land restitution and land claims. Let government constitute a neutral body that will be regulated by Parliament [to deal with the expropriation of land and subsequent transfer to new owners]."

No peace

Another unnamed participant told the committee that previous land claims had been unsuccessful in returning the land to rightful owners.

"Until land ownership is amended, there cannot be peace in this country," he said.

Those against the amendment of Section 25 were in the minority on Wednesday morning and were shouted down as they gave their opinions.

Johan Mills of the Bela-Bela taxpayers' forum said amending Section 25 was not a good idea because the section related to property. He said this meant all types of property and not just land.

He added that he was against this because property was the foundation of everything and that, if money was needed, one could borrow against it.

"If we don't have an asset, we cannot borrow as it will no longer belong to you. It will belong to the government," said Mills.

He added that this would lead to the collapse of the economy.

The hearing continues.