Land row rages on

Zuma re­buts the ANC’s pol­icy by call­ing di­rectly for ex­pro­pri­a­tion, but MPs re­main di­vided

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA and S’THEMBILE CELE news@city­

The ANC is in a quandary af­ter Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma voiced his sup­port of the grow­ing call for land to be ex­pro­pri­ated with­out com­pen­sa­tion – with­out se­cur­ing the party’s man­date to change ex­ist­ing pol­icy. This fol­lows a mo­tion in Par­lia­ment this week, brought by the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) to speed up land re­form by amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion’s prop­erty clause. The mo­tion was de­bated in the Na­tional Assem­bly on Tues­day. ANC MPs ar­gued that there was no need to change the Con­sti­tu­tion, but rather to prop­erly im­ple­ment what sec­tion 25 – which in­cludes the var­i­ous reg­u­la­tions es­tab­lished for land re­form – en­abled gov­ern­ment to do.

But the ANC cau­cus’ re­jec­tion of this mo­tion has so­licited crit­i­cism from within party ranks.

“The party’s ob­jec­tion to this week’s mo­tion in Par­lia­ment, brought by the EFF, left many of us ANC mem­bers con­fused and hurt ... We felt that by re­ject­ing this mo­tion to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion’s prop­erty clause, the party had squan­dered an op­por­tu­nity,” said Ayanda Dlodlo, Deputy Min­is­ter for Pub­lic Ser­vice and Ad­min­is­tra­tion (see Voices, page 1).

But ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu de­fended his cau­cus’ re­jec­tion of the EFF’s of­fer to use its 6% of the na­tional vote to amend sec­tion 25 and make pro­vi­sion for land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

Mthembu said the MPs had “no man­date from the ANC or any of its struc­tures or con­fer­ences” to change the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“We stuck to the ANC pol­icy. If it [a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment] arises at a pol­icy or a na­tional con­fer­ence, and the con­fer­ence says ‘Change the Con­sti­tu­tion’, we will im­ple­ment that. “But the ANC has never man­dated us to do that,” he said. “Even if you wake me in the mid­dle of the night half-drunk or halfdead, I will tell you the pol­icy of the ANC on land does not say that,” said Mthembu.

ANC Women’s League sec­re­tary-gen­eral Meokgo Matuba told City Press that the league was “not at all happy,” with the stance taken in Par­lia­ment. “We would have liked for the par­lia­men­tary cau­cus to have a po­si­tion that was agreed upon by all and gone through all the struc­tures. We would have liked a po­si­tion that gave hope to South Africans, one that said: ‘We know you are tired, and so you should be, as it has been 23 years.’

“They were de­bat­ing [in the House] as if it was busi­ness as usual ... It would have been bet­ter to ab­stain rather than do what they did,” she added.

On Fri­day, three days af­ter the de­bate on land, Zuma spoke at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the Na­tional House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers in Par­lia­ment. Ad­dress­ing the lead­ers, he threw the par­lia­men­tary cau­cus un­der the bus, say­ing the ANC needed to “unite with other black par­ties” in pur­suit of a two-thirds ma­jor­ity that would en­able it to change the Con­sti­tu­tion to al­low for land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion. But Mthembu re­fused to com­ment on Zuma’s speech, re­fer­ring ques­tions to the ANC’s na­tional spokesper­son, Zizi Kodwa. Mthembu em­pha­sised that com­ments he made this week about land re­form – namely, that “gov­ern­ment has not op­ti­mally im­ple­mented the pro­vi­sions of sec­tion 25” – were di­rected solely at the EFF. De­bat­ing the sub­ject of sec­tion 25 on be­half of the ANC, Deputy Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Works Jeremy Cronin said: “The demo­cratic state needs ex­pro­pri­at­ing pow­ers. It needs to be able to drive ru­ral and land re­form, but also mixed in­come, medium den­sity hu­man set­tle­ments in well-lo­cated ar­eas ... All of this is cap­tured ad­mirably in the Con­sti­tu­tion, and es­pe­cially within sec­tion 25.” Mthembu re­it­er­ated: “We have not dealt with the land ques­tion ap­pro­pri­ately. We must not say the stum­bling block on land re­form is the Con­sti­tu­tion when we have not even tested sec­tion 25. We have not tested the no­tion of tak­ing land in the pub­lic in­ter­est and pay­ing min­i­mally for it.” Like Cronin, he re­gards sec­tion 25 as more of an en­abler for land re­form than a bar­rier. Mean­while, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has called for a ref­er­en­dum on the land ques­tion. Speak­ing to City Press this week, pro­vin­cial spokesper­son Mdu­miseni Ntuli said they would take their call to the next sit­ting of the party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC). He said the prov­ince’s work­ing com­mit­tee re­solved last month that pro­vin­cial chair Sihle Zikalala would lead the charge on land in all pub­lic plat­forms. “The ref­er­en­dum must be fa­cil­i­tated by gov­ern­ment in a sim­i­lar for­mat to that of Brexit [last year’s UK ref­er­en­dum, in which Bri­tish cit­i­zens voted to leave the EU]. The fol­low­ing ques­tions should be posed to South Africans: ‘Do you sup­port ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion? And should the Con­sti­tu­tion be amended?’” Ntuli said. He said the party’s NEC should have a proper po­si­tion on land, rather than be “caught off guard” by the EFF. While Mthembu was diplo­matic and re­fused to di­rectly en­gage Zuma’s com­ments, another se­nior ANC MP, who did not want to be named, ac­cused the pres­i­dent of en­gag­ing in pop­ulist tac­tics. “We had a lek­gotla ear­lier this year; the sub­ject should have come up there. You have seen NEC de­ci­sions. None has said we must change the Con­sti­tu­tion or that the pres­i­dent should have an­nounced this in his state of the na­tion ad­dress,” said the MP. The MP ex­pressed con­cern that Zuma went to cau­cus two days af­ter the de­bate and still said noth­ing on the mat­ter. “I do not know what was ex­pected from cau­cus as the cau­cus is not a de­ci­sion­mak­ing struc­ture.” Two sources con­firmed Zuma’s at­ten­dance, adding that he said noth­ing to the cau­cus about land and the mat­ter was not dis­cussed.

TALK TO US Do you agree with Mdu­miseni Ntuli’s sug­ges­tion that a ref­er­en­dum be held to de­cide whether to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion?

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Ja­cob Zuma

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