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Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma spoke ex­ten­sively in his state of the na­tion ad­dress (Sona) about land rights and land resti­tu­tion, say­ing: “It will be dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to achieve true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion un­til the land ques­tion is re­solved.” He called upon Par­lia­ment to move speed­ily in en­sur­ing that the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill passed con­sti­tu­tional muster, so that it could be fi­nalised into law.

The is­sue of ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion is not foreign to the ANC. In­cluded among our res­o­lu­tions at the 53rd na­tional con­fer­ence, which took place in Man­gaung in the Free State in 2012, were the fol­low­ing three pro­pos­als:

To re­place the will­ing buyer, will­ing seller pro­viso with the “just and eq­ui­table” prin­ci­ple in the Con­sti­tu­tion im­me­di­ately, where the state is ac­quir­ing land for land re­form pur­poses;

To ad­vance ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion on land ac­quired through un­law­ful means, or used for il­le­gal pur­poses, hav­ing due re­gard to sec­tion 25 of the Con­sti­tu­tion; and

To ex­pe­dite the pro­mul­ga­tion of the new Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Act.

Right from the ANC’s found­ing meet­ing, held on Jan­uary 8 1912, the is­sue of na­tive land and re­serves has been cen­tral to the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion.

Speak­ing at the Solomon Mahlangu Free­dom Col­lege in Tan­za­nia in 1984, then ANC pres­i­dent Oliver Tambo said: “Let us tell the truth to our­selves, even if the truth co­in­cides with what the enemy is say­ing.”

This state­ment rings true to­day – not with re­gard to cur­rent ru­mours about the pos­si­bil­ity of a split in the ANC, but in terms of the no­tion that who­ever is the bearer of the truth should not mat­ter, as long as the truth res­onates with our peo­ple and the gen­eral thrust of the poli­cies of our move­ment.

To give im­pe­tus to Tambo’s words, the ANC ded­i­cated 2017 as the year of “unity in ac­tion” for all South Africans as we move the coun­try for­ward.

It is time to ac­ti­vate those wise and de­lib­er­ate calls for unity of pur­pose and en­join cit­i­zens to rally around a com­mon cause, no mat­ter who ini­ti­ates it – as long as it is in line with our com­mit­ment as the ANC to im­prove the lives of our peo­ple.

Against this back­drop of the ANC’s rich his­tory and its res­o­lu­tions taken, the party’s ob­jec­tion to this week’s mo­tion in Par­lia­ment, brought by the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) – who pro­posed lend­ing sup­port to the ANC if it amended sec­tion 25 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, al­low­ing land to be ex­pro­pri­ated with­out com­pen­sa­tion – left many of us ANC mem­bers con­fused and hurt.

We felt that by re­ject­ing the EFF’s at­tempt to pass this mo­tion to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion’s prop­erty clause, the party had squan­dered an op­por­tu­nity.

Our out­right dis­missal of the mo­tion, an­nounced by ANC MP and chair­per­son of the ru­ral de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee Phu­muzile Ng­wenya-Ma­bila, sent an un­for­tu­nate mes­sage to those who rely on ANC law­mak­ers to cham­pion the cause for true and mean­ing­ful trans­for­ma­tion.

The call was most likely made by the EFF to score po­lit­i­cal points, as it is prone to do, but it does not take away from the fact that this call is premised on the ANC’s found­ing prin­ci­ples of the re­turn of land to those who were dis­pos­sessed.

The re­al­ity is that the land ques­tion has oc­cu­pied the ANC’s agenda since its for­ma­tion, and will con­tinue to do so un­til land is re­turned to its right­ful own­ers, the black ma­jor­ity.

In re­ply to the Sona de­bate, Zuma made it clear that the or­gan­i­sa­tion was com­mit­ted to find­ing all con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal means to ex­pro­pri­ate land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

He said this to ac­cen­tu­ate the ANC’s new pol­icy of em­bark­ing on a sweep­ing pro­gramme of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

How ANC MPs missed this re­sound­ing mes­sage from the pres­i­dent is strange.

The least the party could have done in re­sponse was to elab­o­rate on its plan to re­turn land to the peo­ple.

In­stead, in an un­for­tu­nate and prob­a­bly un­cal­cu­lated move, we, the ma­jor­ity in the House, con­tra­dicted not only the pres­i­dent’s state­ment, but also the gist of the rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion agenda of the ANC.

Given that this type of trans­for­ma­tion is not pos­si­ble with­out ac­cess to land, to frus­trate the agenda put for­ward by the EFF ap­pears to frus­trate the very poli­cies Zuma an­nounced.

As an ANC mem­ber of good stand­ing, I am con­fi­dent that I speak for mil­lions of our peo­ple when I state, on record, that the party is com­mit­ted to re­turn­ing land to its right­ful own­ers. We will spare no ef­fort in re­al­is­ing this ob­jec­tive.

Amend­ing sec­tion 25 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, which deals with land re­form, is not ne­go­tiable if we are to achieve eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of land.

To quote parts of sec­tion 25 ver­ba­tim, this is what it pro­vides for:

1. “No one may be de­prived of prop­erty ex­cept in terms of law of gen­eral ap­pli­ca­tion, and no law may per­mit ar­bi­trary de­pri­va­tion of prop­erty.”

2. “Prop­erty may be ex­pro­pri­ated only in terms of law of gen­eral ap­pli­ca­tion – (a) for a pub­lic pur­pose or in the pub­lic in­ter­est; and (b) sub­ject to com­pen­sa­tion, the amount of which and the time and man­ner of pay­ment of which have ei­ther been agreed to by those af­fected, or de­cided or ap­proved by a court.”

As the cus­to­dian of the as­pi­ra­tions of the poor in this coun­try, the ANC should have tabled the mo­tion for dis­cus­sion in Par­lia­ment to pave a way for the re­al­i­sa­tion of this mile­stone of our strug­gle.

ANC MPs need to re­alise that democ­racy de­mands that we some­times sup­port the views of our tra­di­tional op­po­nents if those de­ci­sions help to ad­vance the cause of our strug­gle.

We have fought for so long to build these demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, it works against our ob­jec­tives and val­ues to close rank now.

Of course, op­po­si­tion par­ties will al­ways look for a loop­hole to den­i­grate the ef­forts of our move­ment, but ul­ti­mately, our tri­umph lies in con­sol­i­dat­ing the vic­to­ries of our hard-earned democ­racy. This in­cludes amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion when the need arises.

Af­ter all, our democ­racy came about through a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment, which we knew would present us with chal­lenges go­ing for­ward.

Hav­ing cho­sen to re­solve mat­ters at the ne­go­ti­at­ing table, rather than em­bark on an all-out lib­er­a­tion war which would rav­age the coun­try, was the ul­ti­mate act of pa­tri­o­tism.

We opted for this with our eyes wide open and now, two decades into democ­racy, we see a rel­a­tively sta­ble coun­try and a pros­per­ous na­tion.

De­spite this, the black ma­jor­ity re­mains in a state of penury as we have not suc­ceeded in suf­fi­ciently re­vers­ing the eco­nomic legacy of apartheid.

Sec­tion 25 rep­re­sents one of the ma­jor con­ces­sions made by the ANC in its adop­tion of that com­pro­mised po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment dur­ing the early 1990s.

Even as we re­flect on the achieve­ments of our democ­racy through com­pro­mise, we have a duty as the peo­ple’s move­ment to as­sess the ef­fects of these com­pro­mises with a view to tak­ing hard de­ci­sions about the fu­ture of the in­di­gent of this coun­try.

There­fore, we should have sup­ported the EFF’s mo­tion, with mod­i­fi­ca­tions.

Par­lia­ment should have gone on to out­line a cred­i­ble le­gal process to achieve the amend­ment.

Sec­tion 25 can be changed in such a way that is sat­is­fac­tory to all if we all com­mit to the agenda of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

Hav­ing voiced its re­jec­tion of the mo­tion, the ANC needs to now re­as­sure the masses of our peo­ple about its com­mit­ment to the free­dom strug­gle pi­o­neered by our fore­bears.

Let me re­mind all South Africans that this has been a strug­gle to re­store the dig­nity of the African through re­claim­ing our birthright, which is land own­er­ship, and all the ben­e­fits that rep­re­sents. Dlodlo is deputy min­is­ter of pub­lic ser­vice

and ad­min­is­tra­tion, and is chair­per­son of the ANC leg­is­la­ture and gov­er­nance sub­com­mit­tee

TALK TO US Do you think the ANC risks los­ing face fol­low­ing its op­po­si­tion to the EFF’s mo­tion in Par­lia­ment that land should be ex­pro­pri­ated with­out com­pen­sa­tion, or can it still speak con­fi­dently on the land is­sue?

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


FRUITS OF LABOUR Ravele Com­mu­nity Prop­erty As­so­ci­a­tion farm work­ers, based in Lim­popo, har­vest ba­nanas. Most of the farm work­ers are ben­e­fi­cia­ries

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