Land reform must give ownership to people, not state – Zwakele Mncwango

DA KZN leader says the Constitution is not the problem

DA fighting for land reform that gives ownership to the people not the state

2 August 2018

This week ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the ANC’s decision to amend the Constitution to ensure expropriation of land without compensation. This announcement shows that ANC continues to undermine the views of the people by not waiting for the constitutionally required consultative land hearings and parliamentary processes to be concluded.

The Constitution is not the problem

The recent Land Reform hearings have shown that the Constitution is not the problem. They also showed a need for land reform to be sped up. This is a position that the Democratic Alliance (DA) has long held. Yet the ANC and the EFF are intent on not focusing on the real issues around land reform, claiming that the current requirement - to pay fair and equitable compensation - has been the biggest constraint in terms of land reform.

The High-Level Panel (HLP) report, commissioned by Parliament and chaired by former President Kgalema Motlanthe, also noted that compensation paid for land under land reform was not the most serious constraint on land reform in South Africa to date. Instead, the Report cited other constraints “including increasing evidence of corruption by officials, the diversion of the land reform budget to elites, lack of political will, and lack of training and capacity have proved more serious stumbling blocks to land reform”.

Land reform corruption in KZN

The DA agrees that ANC corruption, poor governance and political will lie at the heart of the problem. Examples of corruption in this province that hindered progress on land reform include:

- The KwaZulu-Natal Commission for Restitution of Land Rights has settled more than 15 000 claims amounting to R9 billion in the province. The question is, how many ordinary people have benefited?

- The DA has been approached by a young man from Richmond, Green Hill, uthi abazali bakhe bafaka isicelo sokubuyiselwa umhlaba owathathwa ngendluzula ngesikhathi sobandlululo. Okumangazayo ukuthi umhlaba ubuyiselwe abantu abezikhundleni kuANC

- At Boschhoek Farm in Melmoth, Northern KZN, a R49 million sale was concluded as part of the government’s land redistribution programme. It is alleged that the farm ended up in the hands of crooked officials rather than the poor farming communities it was intended for.

Equally shocking are the findings of the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) which in 2014 revealed that of 79 beneficiaries of the Amala Trust:

- 35 were not aware that they were beneficiaries

- 22 did not even know where the farm was located

- 40 did not reside or work on the farm

- Three denied submitting their names in respect of the project and claimed their names were submitted without their knowledge; and

- Eight out of the 361 beneficiaries were employed by the State and as such they did not qualify as beneficiaries for the LRAD grant.

Then there are the more than 21 properties bought by the Land Affairs Department, in the Empangeni and Eshowe districts which are today lying fallow, producing only weeds, dead trees and choked sugar cane. And there are many more of these farms across the province.

The Constitution is not the problem, the ANC is.

The ANC is hampering land reform

The reality is that the ANC government has hampered land reform in our country. Constitutional changes will not fix structural issues in land reform. The latest move by the ANC shows that it is a party that has lost touch with reality - no matter who the leader is.

This week StatsSA released shocking unemployment statistics. Yet the ANC don’t seem to care. The ANC’s subsequent decision to support a reckless constitutional amendment, despite a warning by the IMF on how this will negatively impact our economy and food security, is the height of arrogance.

Nationally , there are almost 10 million jobless South Africans, and that figure is set to grow if the ANC continues on this path all for the sake of votes. When the dust settles, on land owned by the state not the people, the economy will have taken a massive knock, more will have been shed, and our people will be even poorer – all because of the ANC.

It is only the DA that has put forward a position that will put economic power in the hands of our people through title deeds, in both urban and rural settings. It is only the DA that successfully runs land reform programmes where we govern. Our programme of land reform generates generational wealth and builds a vibrant and inclusive economy.

ANC vs Ingonyama Trust

The DA will continue to support land reform that makes South Africans owners and participants in a growing, thriving economy. This includes the belief that ownership of land in KZN, under the Ingonyama Trust, be given over to the people, through individual security of tenure.

There is a need to discuss possible amendments to the Ingonyama Trust Act in order to give security to individuals. This must be done in consultation with relevant stakeholders including those who live under communal land, such as Izinduna, Amakhosi and the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini.

The DA will not support the ANC’s proposal to repeal the Ingonyama Trust. We also note the backtracking by ANC President Rampahosa after the King called an Imbizo.

In fact, the 54th ANC conference in NASREC resolved, I quote “Democratize control and administration of areas under communal land tenure”, and you go lie to the King.”

This shows just how desperate the ANC is to win votes in the 2019 elections. It will even change its views to do so. The people of our province will not be fooled. They are realizing just how the ANC operates.

An uncaring ANC

The DA is of the firm belief that the ANC’s claim that land expropriation without compensation is the path to freedom for black South Africans does not hold true. Instead, what the ANC wants is to take away land from the people and then propose that they lease it back from the state.

This is an untenable situation which will leave the people of South Africa worse off than they are today. The majority of Black South Africans will never own land if the property clause is amended as per ANC proposal.

Immorality, the ANC and the EFF

It is highly immoral of the ANC and EFF to cultivate hope amongst South Africans who are desperate to one day own land. It is also questionable how many of the thousands of people that have attended land hearings over the last few weeks truly grasp that the ANC and EFF's proposal - to change the Constitution to allow the government to expropriate land without compensation - will have the opposite outcome.

The ANC and EFF recently stated that communal land will not be touched in the process of expropriation without compensation. However, people living in communal land areas have been deprived of land rights that are guaranteed to them under the Constitution and other legislation. Both parties are purposefully dodging the issue of tenure security issues in communal areas. These areas should not be left out of the debate on land if we want to reach a sustainable solution.
Roughly 18 million people in South Africa live in a legally insecure situation, where their families and individual land rights are denied and not protected by government. The difference is that no-one is protecting their rights.

The ANC and EFF believe that the state should be the sole owner of land and that the people should be tenants on state land. This means that South Africans - the very people who are attending the land hearings in the desperate hope that they will soon become owners of land - will have no security of tenure. They will be tenants, serving the ANC and its corrupt network. The ANC and EFF have become snake oil salesmen, using the Hearings to sell the opposite of what people really want.

The DA will not tolerate the ANC lies.

Our people suffer from a history of being denied land ownership. Millions of South Africans desperately yearn for the dignity that owning land and having a proper roof over their heads will provide. Yet, the ANC openly continues to peddle their cruel and cynical lie that this would be made possible through amending our Constitution.

In the third decade of South Africa’s democracy there should not be any second-class citizens. There should not be a situation where people’s land rights are protected, and others are not.

The ANC-led government has failed to protect South African’s land rights and now they are using the prospect of expropriation without compensation to hide their failures. The DA will continue to use every resource at our disposal to tell South Africans the truth about land reform and uncover the lies of the ANC and EFF.

The people of KZN and South Africa have an opportunity to usher in change in 2019. The kind of change that ensures that people deprived of owning land and participating in the economy are afforded the dignity of owning land and becoming active participants in the economy.

Issued by Zwakele MncwangoLeader of the DA in the KZN Legislature, 2 August 2018