The big land de­bate is on

New pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa is com­mit­ted to the re­turn of land and the restora­tion of the hu­man­ity of black peo­ple, writes Mole­batsi Masedi

African Times - - Front Page - Mole­batsi Masedi is a Polok­wane, Lim­popo based pro­po­nent of rad­i­cal so­cioe­co­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. Tweeter: @Mole­bat­siMasedi

EUPHORIA has cap­tured those whom apartheid colo­nial­ism dis­pos­sessed of their lands and re­duced them to beg­gars in their coun­try of birth. Land dis­pos­ses­sion was made into law with the pas­sage of the 1913 Land Act.

Talk of le­gal­is­ing theft. Through the stroke of the pen Africans were re­duced into land­less beg­gars who moved to cities, towns and farms to sell their labour for next to noth­ing. The euphoria that has en­veloped the coun­try and Africans in par­tic­u­lar is born of the re­cent res­o­lu­tion on the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion. This is a se­ri­ous de­par­ture from the orig­i­nal will­ing buyer, will­ing seller model of land resti­tu­tion.

There is con­sen­sus that the will­ing buyer, will­ing seller model has been a mon­u­men­tal flop. In­stead of re­turn­ing land to the right­ful and de­serv­ing own­ers, the prin­ci­ple length­ened dis­pos­ses­sion.

Over the years there has been de­bate on the fail­ure of the gov­ern­ment to re­turn the land to its own­ers. With the ac­knowl­edge­ment of the fail­ure of land resti­tu­tion un­der the cur­rent model, for­mer Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma started the de­bate on land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion in the twi­light of his term. At first Zuma’s rants were not ac­cepted, at best they were tol­er­ated like you would comic re­lief in tense times.

Land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion would have fiz­zled out like all rad­i­cal and lib­er­at­ing res­o­lu­tions of lib­er­a­tion move­ments across the globe. That was the case un­til the ANC pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma came along and pro­claimed rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion as a clar­ion call to ac­tion.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma res­cued rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion from obliv­ion and made it the plank of her cam­paign. RET would man­i­fest it­self through, among other pol­icy op­tions, land resti­tu­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion. She was treated with dis­dain by some of her own com­rades and her views dis­missed as rad­i­cal eco­nomic loot­ing.

In­stead of go­ing away un­der the bar­rage of at­tacks from pow­er­ful sec­tors of so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, RET gained trac­tion among the peo­ple. It ended up in a set of rec­om­men­da­tions from the ANC mid-term pol­icy re­view in the third quar­ter of last year.

The ANC 54th na­tional con­fer­ence adopted RET as an of­fi­cial pol­icy, to deepen so­cioe­co­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and bring black peo­ple into the main­stream econ­omy. Some of the pos­tu­lates of this rad­i­cal eco­nomic pur­suit by the ANC would be land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion. There would also be the na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of the re­serve bank and free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

De­trac­tors of ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion mounted a cam­paign of dis­dain and vil­i­fi­ca­tion of this res­o­lu­tion of the ANC. South Africa would be a de­stroyed coun­try like Zim­babwe, once the food bas­ket of Africa. In­vestors would take their money to where they would re­ceive se­cu­rity of their as­sets.

In the light of this mount­ing na­tional and in­ter­na­tional pres­sure, it seemed like the ANC would suc­cumb and aban­don land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion in favour of some deal to ap­pease lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional cap­i­tal.

The ANC might have bowed to pres­sure and went gen­tle on so­cio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

As if on cue, Julius Malema’s Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters threw the span­ner in the wheel. It tabled the mo­tion on land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion and dared the ANC to sup­port it. The mo­tion was amended to ac­com­mo­date the fears of the rul­ing party. It re­ceived over­whelm­ing en­dorse­ment in the Na­tional As­sem­bly. What re­mained to be done, was a re­view of the con­sti­tu­tion and laws to make land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion pos­si­ble and le­gal.

Out in the vil­lages, town­ships, farm com­pounds and squat­ter camps hope was re­stored to peo­ple long dis­pos­sessed of their land. They saw their hu­man­ity be­ing re­stored with the re­turn of the land.

That land is go­ing to be re­turned to the peo­ple with­out com­pen­sat­ing the priv­i­leged in the coun­try and abroad. These were peo­ple who thought in the era of Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa it will be busi­ness as usual, with the rich getting richer and the poor con­demned to per­pet­ual poverty.

It has turned out that Ramaphosa is com­mit­ted to the re­turn of land and the restora­tion of the hu­man­ity of black peo­ple. It will be hard and long be­fore ev­ery stolen piece of land is re­turned to the peo­ple. Peo­ple are ea­gerly await­ing the roll out of land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

Ramaphosa is on record as say­ing, land will be ex­pro­pri­ated with­out com­pen­sa­tion, but with great wis­dom and skill so food se­cu­rity and agri­cul­ture are not com­pro­mised.

As the re­turn of land takes a con­crete shape, the EFF has dumped the DA by the way­side. This is a se­quel to the DA vot­ing against the EFF mo­tion. The mar­riage of con­ve­nience hatched to spite the ANC is in trou­ble. At the slight­est provo­ca­tion the DA will be re­turned to the op­po­si­tion benches in mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and met­ros it is run­ning in coali­tion with the EFF.

The EFF and the ANC are all pur­su­ing the same cause, land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion. This doesn’t come as a sur­prise; the FF has be­come more ANC than even the rul­ing party it­self. Malema is even ac­cused of having moles at senior lev­els of his for­mer po­lit­i­cal home. Of late he has been break­ing news on ANC de­ci­sions ahead of every­body else.

As if to com­pen­sate the

ANC for sup­port­ing its mo­tion on ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion, the EFF has promised the rul­ing party the ex­ec­u­tive may­oral po­si­tion of the DA-run Nel­son Man­dela Bay metro. A mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against cur­rent mayor, Athol Trol­lip is load­ing.

The EFF is set to use its king maker po­si­tion to ex­tract land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion from the ANC. It how­ever re­mains to be seen what the fu­ture holds. Will this re­main yet an­other dream de­ferred or is this the dawn of a new era.

Shortly a Con­sti­tu­tion Re­view Com­mit­tee will be con­sti­tuted to look at Sec­tion 25 of the Con­sti­tu­tion and its con­straints on land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion. The clause pro­vides for com­pen­sa­tion in the ap­pro­pri­a­tion of land, a land resti­tu­tion plan that has failed black peo­ple for over a decade of demo­cratic rule.

In the course of eas­ing the quest for land ap­pro­pri­a­tion, a lot of ne­go­ti­a­tions will hap­pen and com­pro­mises will be made. At the end of this ex­er­cise the econ­omy will be opened up for those his­tor­i­cally left out of the main­stream of the wealth of the coun­try.

It is rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, now or never. The econ­omy must be opened up for all ir­re­spec­tive of class, colour or gen­der if democ­racy and free­dom have to be of mean­ing to the wretched of the earth that are abound in the coun­try.

The strug­gle to bring back the land is South Africa’s own Sec­ond Chimurenga.

Pic­ture: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela/Vis­ual Buzz SA

Over the years there has been de­bate on the fail­ure of the gov­ern­ment to re­turn the land to its own­ers.

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