Defeat of the populist EWC bill another sign SA is fighting back

John Steenhuisen says meaningful land reform can be achieved, but it requires overcoming real obstacles


10 December 2021

This has been a historic week for South Africa as the ANC’s attempt to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation was defeated in Parliament.

The DA and many other political parties and civil society groups fought hard for this outcome. It ends three and a half years of uncertainty around secure property rights, which experience the world over shows are an essential pre-condition for economic growth and prosperity.

This bill was a populist move to scapegoat the Constitution and distract from the real impediments to land reform, which are inadequate legislation, lack of budget, lack of political will, lack of capacity, tenure insecurity, lack of support for emerging farmers, corruption, and capture by politically connected elites, as identified in Former President Kgalema Motlanthe’s High Level Panel Report of 2017.

We can and must achieve meaningful land reform in South Africa. But it requires recognizing and overcoming these real obstacles. It is to this that we must now turn our focus. We will certainly never achieve it by changing our Constitution and destroying our economy.

The DA is committed to building an inclusive society. We believe the outcome of the equally historic local government election in November provides a pathway out of ANC dominance and towards a national coalition government able to start tackling these and other impediments to building a South Africa that truly is a country for all.

These bright rays of hope come at the end of another exceptionally tough year for South Africans, during which broad unemployment has grown to a record 46.6% while the economy has contacted by 1.5% in the past three months.

While the pandemic, including the recent travel bans, has dealt a major blow, our pain is mostly ANC-inflicted, and much of it could have been avoided had the DA been in national government.

From as early as April last year, the DA warned against lockdown as a response to the pandemic, arguing it would do more harm than good. Instead, we proposed more targeted interventions and decentralised decision-making, and pushed early and hard for vaccines. Our position has been entirely vindicated, with President Ramaphosa finally admitting last month that lockdowns are irrational and unaffordable.

We have also consistently fought for the economic reforms that could pull millions out of poverty and into jobs.

Our objectives in 2022 and over the next 1000 days until the 2024 election are threefold.

Where we are in government, deliver on our manifesto pledges and turn the places we govern into shining examples of good governance. (On that note, I can report that the DA-run Western Cape’s was the only provincial health department to achieve a clean audit this year.)

In opposition, continue to challenge harmful policies such as EWC, expose and fight corruption, and champion reform.

Internally, strengthen our branch network so that we can best hold our local public representatives accountable, train and capacitate activists, and attract talented, committed individuals to the party as we work towards the 2024 national election.

For now, on behalf of the DA, I wish everyone in this beautiful country a healthy and peaceful festive season.

John Steenhuisen

DA leader