LAND HEAR­INGS

Chair­man in­sists com­mit­tee and Par­lia­ment will only be in­flu­enced by the strength of the ar­gu­ments

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

The first week of the con­sti­tu­tional re­view com­mit­tee hear­ings into amend­ing sec­tion 25 of the Con­sti­tu­tion took a dis­tinctly party-po­lit­i­cal flavour. The Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters’ (EFF’s) shadow loomed over the land ex­pro­pri­a­tion hear­ings in Lim­popo this week as they ap­peared the most pre­pared and or­gan­ised com­pared with the gov­ern­ing ANC and the op­po­si­tion DA.

The se­ries of pro­vin­cial pub­lic hear­ings that are ex­pected to as­sist Par­lia­ment in its de­ci­sion to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion to al­low land ex­pro­pri­a­tion without com­pen­sa­tion to speed up land re­form started on Mon­day in Lim­popo and North­ern Cape.

The EFF did not only de­ploy its leader Julius Malema into the com­mit­tee – who is a draw card in his own right – but also had its pro­vin­cial big guns and coun­cil­lors ob­serv­ing and mon­i­tor­ing the pro­ceed­ings.

De­spite claim­ing that the EFF’s red-clad sup­port­ers were bused in, the DA in Tza­neen and in Tho­hoyan­dou had the sec­ond-largest num­ber of peo­ple wear­ing its blue party re­galia. The ANC was rel­a­tively anony­mous – its lo­cal lead­ers on phones for long pe­ri­ods, fran­ti­cally try­ing to es­tab­lish whether there was a co­or­di­nated ap­proach in place.

A white woman who op­posed the pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional change and soon af­ter walked out with a DA rep­re­sen­ta­tive irked Malema, who loudly moaned to those sit­ting next to him.

“Didn’t she say she was a real es­tate agent,” he asked, sug­gest­ing she was act­ing for a po­lit­i­cal party.

Yes­ter­day, a skir­mish broke out be­tween EFF gen­eral sec­re­tary Go­drich Gardee and a DA sup­porter dur­ing the hear­ings in Tho­hoyan­dou. The sit­u­a­tion was calmed down by Malema. Ten­sions con­tin­ued af­ter the hear­ings ended, with a DA sup­porter al­leg­ing that he had been as­saulted by a group of four un­known peo­ple. Po­lice in­ter­vened to stop a clash be­tween sup­port­ers of the two par­ties.

At times, the pro­ceed­ings seemed more like a po­lit­i­cal rally of sorts, ex­ac­er­bated by chair­per­son Vin­cent Smith’s re­peated ref­er­ence to au­di­ence mem­bers as “maqa­bane” and “com­rades”.

But the point of con­ver­gence for many of those who at­tended – whether they churned out po­lit­i­cal slo­gans, painted a painful pic­ture of their liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence or com­plained about cor­rup­tion in their lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity – was that land ex­pro­pri­a­tion without com­pen­sa­tion should hap­pen.

How­ever, most DA sup­port­ers in­sisted the land could be ex­pro­pri­ated without amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. They ar­gued that cur­rent laws pro­vide for it, but that the ANC had failed to ap­ply ex­ist­ing laws.

“Whites did not buy this land. If they did, they must pro­duce re­ceipts,” said one speaker.

“Ex­pro­pri­ate first be­fore amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion so that we can see what le­gal chal­lenges we will face, then ad­dress those with an amend­ment,” said an­other.

“Whites saw the beauty of our land and wanted it. Our chiefs died for the beauty of the land. Our queen sac­ri­ficed her­self to pro­tect the land. The land­less also have a right to prop­erty,” said City Mod­jadji, former ANC mayor and re­gional leader.

Lim­popo AfriFo­rum leader Wico Swanepoel said the de­bate should be guided by facts and not emo­tions based on “a dis­torted ver­sion of his­tory”. He said the ANC govern­ment started the de­bate to hide its fail­ures, and land re­dis­tri­bu­tion pol­icy was racist be­cause it was based on peo­ple’s skin colour. “The econ­omy will be de­stroyed and in­vestors will not come to South Africa if the amend­ment is passed,” he said.

Lim­popo EFF sec­re­tary Jossey Buthane said he was ex­cited that on Thurs­day in Mokopane (Pot­gi­eter­srus) a white per­son sup­ported ex­pro­pri­a­tion without com­pen­sa­tion, which showed that “the de­bate is not a black is­sue but a South African is­sue”.

Buthane said EFF leg­isla­tive mem­bers and coun­cil­lors at­tended the hear­ing only to ob­serve and many of those who at­tended these ses­sions were trans­ported by Par­lia­ment and not the party.

“I am very happy that our peo­ple are adamant that they want land and noth­ing else and we are happy that it is our peo­ple leading them­selves this time to­wards ex­pro­pri­a­tion.”

He said the “en­e­mies of change” were plant­ing sto­ries that sup­port for pol­icy changes were staged. “What makes peo­ple think that black peo­ple can­not think on their own? What makes them think that if black peo­ple can gather they must have been mo­bilised by some­body else. These peo­ple are com­ing on their own and they are de­mand­ing what be­longs to them.

“If there is any­thing that or­gan­ised the peo­ple, it is their de­mand for land. If there must be any­body that must be blamed it is those who took the land away from them,” Buthane said.

Smith said the com­mit­tee and Par­lia­ment “will be in­flu­enced by the strength of the ar­gu­ments and I am happy with the qual­ity so far”.

“We will take the sub­mis­sions of those who dis­agree and those who agree. We will take that to Cape Town and com­bine it with writ­ten sub­mis­sions. It is not about the num­ber of peo­ple who sup­port this or that view,” he said.

Whites saw the beauty of our land and wanted it. Our chiefs died for the beauty of the land. Our queen sac­ri­ficed her­self to pro­tect the land. The land­less also have a right to prop­erty

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