Re­turn land to the peo­ple

The ANC’s pro­gramme for re­dis­tri­bu­tion must ex­plore ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion, writes

CityPress - - Voices -

The op­por­tunis­tic and mis­guided claims by the late­com­ers to our rev­o­lu­tion and mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion that the ANC has nei­ther pas­sion nor com­mit­ment to the strug­gle for land lacks his­tor­i­cal va­lid­ity. The cur­rent de­bate on land re­dis­tri­bu­tion can­not be ad­e­quately in­ter­ro­gated with­out re­flect­ing on the land is­sue from the be­gin­ning and re­call­ing the heroic strug­gle fought by our an­ces­tors in de­fence of their land and their hu­man­ity against the ra­pa­cious colo­nial con­querors.

The long and painful wars of re­sis­tance and dis­pos­ses­sion against the African peo­ple shall re­main a con­stant re­minder of the bru­tal­ity and greed of the coloniser and the heroic spirit and re­silience of our fore­bears.

Fu­elled by the dev­il­ish for­ma­tion of the Union gov­ern­ment and the sub­se­quent 1913 Land Act which sought to sys­tem­at­i­cally ren­der Africans land­less, John Lan­gal­ibalele Dube led his peers in a spir­ited jour­ney of re­sis­tance.

In fact, the for­ma­tion of the ANC it­self was a di­rect re­sponse to the mooted seizure of 87% of the in­dige­nous land by the colonis­ers. Would I thus be re­miss to say the ANC has a moral obli­ga­tion and re­spon­si­bil­ity to the peo­ple of our coun­try to re­turn 80% of land to the peo­ple from whom land was taken? Would this be con­sid­ered rad­i­cal? The bur­den of land own­er­ship proof should never be ours; those who to­day claim own­er­ship must prove that land was ac­tu­ally paid for in the 17th and 18th cen­turies.

In the third decade of our demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion, we have to ask the pen­e­trat­ing ques­tion: How far have we gone as the move­ment for change in the re­al­i­sa­tion of this African dream and does our pace in­spire con­fi­dence in our peo­ple?

Wak­ing up to the dread­ful news of the com­ing into law of the 1913 Land Act, then ANC sec­re­tary, Sol Plaatje ex­claimed: “The South African na­tive found him­self, not ac­tu­ally a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.”

What is the po­si­tion of the South African na­tive to­day in re­la­tion to the land ques­tion?

It is a fact that, de­spite the ef­forts of the demo­cratic gov­ern­ment to ad­dress the land­less­ness of our peo­ple, a lot of pro­duc­tive com­mer­cial land and prime res­i­den­tial land is still in white hands.

It is in­ex­cus­able that to­day, the state only owns a mere 14% of the coun­try’s land with 79% be­ing in pri­vate hands which, by all ac­counts, points to white peo­ple.

As a gov­ern­ment, we are now more than ever called upon to re­turn land to its right­ful own­ers. We have to do so, not be­cause it is fash­ion­able to sing and dance about land but be­cause it is time the ma­jor­ity of our peo­ple ben­e­fited equally from the re­sources pro­vided by their own land and to move to­wards clos­ing the cir­cle of the rev­o­lu­tion so many died for.

This sense of ur­gency to re­turn land to our peo­ple is re­flected by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in his state of the na­tion ad­dress that it would be dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to achieve true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion un­til the land ques­tion has been re­solved.

Our pur­suit of eco­nomic jus­tice through the res­o­lu­tion of the land ques­tion can no longer be a dream of tomorrow, but a re­al­ity of to­day. To this end gov­ern­ment has re­solved to ex­pe­dite the process of bring­ing the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill into law – which, once passed, will grant the min­is­ter of land af­fairs the right to ex­pro­pri­ate in the na­tional in­ter­est.

We can­not speak about the pur­chase of land based on mar­ket price and the will­ing-buyer will­ing-seller pol­icy, not tak­ing into cog­ni­sance that, pri­mar­ily, what is be­ing sold was stolen in the first place.

As a ma­jor­ity party in gov­ern­ment the time is now to use our might to push for a new dis­pen­sa­tion in land reform. We must se­ri­ously ex­plore the route of land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

We need to em­pha­sise the point that we are not ad­vo­cat­ing chaos or mind­less up­ris­ing on these mat­ters. As a re­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ment with the wel­fare of its peo­ple in all its facets at heart, we have to ex­plore all le­gal means to achieve these ob­jec­tives.

As the ANC, we sup­port the call and sub­mis­sion to Par­lia­ment for the re­moval of sec­tion 27(5) of the Con­sti­tu­tion which sets a cut-off date of June 1913 as a yard­stick for land claims.

Our peo­ple have suf­fered too long to stand idle and nurse the feel­ings of those who hold on to white priv­i­lege to the ex­clu­sion of the rest.

It is there­fore more cru­cial that we seek to re­store the dig­nity of our peo­ple who have for hun­dreds of years been re­moved from their an­ces­tral land.

Sim­i­larly, we should ex­pe­dite the law that seeks to ban for­eign own­er­ship of agri­cul­tural land. The threats about in­vestor con­fi­dence and other ex­cuses from the op­po­si­tion benches, who want to hold on to the sta­tus quo, can no longer be en­ter­tained at the ex­pense of our peo­ple.

It is in­deed true that ev­ery day that passes with­out democratis­ing our econ­omy and land breeds con­di­tions that threaten na­tional co­he­sion and peace among our peo­ple and is, in fact, a se­cu­rity threat.

We dare not fail the mil­lions of our peo­ple who have no other hope or refuge but the courage and re­silience of our fore­bears who took up arms to de­fend their dig­nity and liveli­hood. Dlodlo is an ANC mem­ber and deputy min­is­ter for pub­lic ser­vice and ad­min­is­tra­tion

TALK TO US Do you be­lieve that a pro­gramme of land re­dis­tri­bu­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion is, in fact, fea­si­ble?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word LAND and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

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