The Afrikanerbond once again rejects the constitutional amendment, the process and the rationale behind the amendment
11 August 2021
The Afrikanerbond this afternoon submitted its comments to The Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution in its calls for public comment on the revised 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill.
We must categorically state once again that in principle we take a stand against the proposed constitutional amendment in view of the fact that it dilutes a fundamental right. For this reason, we cannot make proposals for the improvement of the draft legislation, as we cannot take part in what is in essence an ideological process, aimed at amending and diminishing our Constitution at all costs, while undermining our democracy.
In our opinion the proposed amendments to the Constitution would have a serious impact on property rights and that the effects thereof would not be limited to agriculture only. In fact, it would affect the property rights of everyone in South Africa. The constitutional amendment in itself is a dangerous threat to the very pillars of our democracy.
We have already emphasized on several occasions that a solution to the land issue is important, "[b]ut the process must take place in an honest, sincere and open manner. The process must take place as far as possible outside the political sphere and never for political purposes." This remains our position, but it is clear that our warning has been ignored all along. The manner in which this committee has approached the issue is and remains problematic and dishonest.
Our standpoint in the past as well as now and in the future is that the constitutional amendment is simply being steam-rolled by the ANC and that it is nothing more than an acknowledgement that the ANC has absolutely and completely failed in its policy, application and implementation of land reform and land transfer within the constitutional guidelines. The 1996 constitution, the pre-negotiated settlement and property rights in particular are subordinated to the ANC's 2017 NASREC conference and the ideological framework informing the decision.
It has become clear that the political considerations underlying the process meant there was never an intention to heed any comments or advice from others that could rectify what must be a flawed outcome. The comments of experts and other role players were ignored throughout and only the ANC's own interests were promoted all along. It makes any process suspicious and it undermines all well-intentioned comments, because the political decision that had already been taken in advance has always been the highest consideration.
In 2015, the Speaker's Forum of Parliament requested a high-level panel (HLP) to investigate all legislation since 1994 with the task of evaluating the content in relation to its effectiveness and possible unintended consequences. The comprehensive report of the HLP, led by former President Kgalema, which was completed in November 2017 and submitted to Parliament and which contains more than 100 recommendations, has never been considered or discussed by Parliament. The report and recommendations were also put on the altar by the ANC's 2017 NASREC conference. Follow this link to the report on Parliament's website:
Any rationale for any constitutional amendment is rejected on p51 by the High-Level Report. “The Panel is of the view that government has not used the powers it already has to expropriate land for land reform purposes effectively, nor used the provisions in the Constitution that allow compensation to be below market value in particular circumstances. Rather than recommend that the Constitution be changed, the Panel recommends that government should use its expropriation powers more boldly, in ways that test the meaning of the compensation provisions in Section 25 (3), particularly in relation to land that is unutilised or underutilised.”
Neither Parliament nor the ANC has expressed itself on this or many other matters, nor have they voiced any proper arguments against the report in public.
The report's assessment of the state of affairs, especially with regard to land reform, was probably too honest, cut too deep and required responsibility and accountability from officials and politicians. This alone raises serious questions about the motive for the constitutional amendment.
The Afrikanerbond has consistently supported initiatives for the establishment of property rights in South Africa and strives to promote such rights for all citizens. However, both property rights and land reform must be subject to the workings of an open and free market where there are equal opportunities for all to acquire property, with or without state aid. There is ample opportunity in agriculture, as one of these components, to acquire valuable property. Many suggestions have been made in the past to find a solution to this in creative ways. The portfolio committee and the government have so far been wilfully deaf to any constructive advice.
The ANC is once again being led by the nose through its attachment to its own ideology and is putting blind adherence to it above the Constitution and the people of South Africa, as we have seen them do over the years.
We also call on the public and all roleplayers to submit comments before 13 August 2021.
Issued by Jan Bosman, Chief Secretary of the Afrikanerbond, 11 August 2021