STATE 139 TO TAKE FARMS

CityPress - - Front Page - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za Is the ANC’s de­ci­sion to tar­get 139 farms a good start?

The ANC has tar­geted 139 se­lected farms that they plan to ex­pro­pri­ate with­out com­pen­sa­tion in the com­ing weeks as it moves to make good on its com­mit­ment to test out sec­tion 25 of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The gov­ern­ing party emerged from a two-day lek­gotla of its high­est de­ci­sion-mak­ing body, the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC), with the re­solve to make an amend­ment to the con­sti­tu­tion which will ex­plic­itly al­low for the con­di­tional ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

City Press has learnt that the NEC has given the green light to its de­ploy­ees in gov­ern­ment, specif­i­cally the depart­ment of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and land af­fairs, to forge ahead with the process at the Land Claims

Court, in which the state will for the first time refuse to pay mar­ket value for iden­ti­fied land por­tions in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try.

The con­tro­ver­sial land de­bate has also formed the back­drop to a sub­tle tug-of-war be­tween two dom­i­nant lines of thought in the ANC.

Those aligned to Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa are op­posed to the strong lobby for “blan­ket na­tion­al­i­sa­tion”, in­stead pre­fer­ring a mea­sured ap­proach that sets out the nec­es­sary con­di­tions for ex­pro­pri­a­tion.

ANC NEC mem­ber and the head of pres­i­dency, Zizi Kodwa, would not di­vulge details of the farms, but was at pains to em­pha­sise that the move was nec­es­sary for the long-term sta­bil­ity of the coun­try.

“Both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional in­vestors must ap­pre­ci­ate that long-term in­vest­ment is tied [to] own­er­ship of land by the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple. In other words, if you are talk­ing about sus­tain­able long-term cer­tainty, it is tied to ad­dress­ing the in­jus­tices of the past,” Kodwa said.

“You can ap­pre­ci­ate the jit­tery re­sponse and so on, the shocks at the mo­ment, but what we are do­ing now is to cre­ate pol­icy cer­tainty.

“Ob­vi­ously then there may be a neg­a­tive im­pact in terms of the mar­kets, but over time I think the mar­kets as well as in­vestors will ap­pre­ci­ate that what we are do­ing is cre­at­ing pol­icy cer­tainty and cre­at­ing the con­di­tions for fu­ture in­vest­ment.”

Kodwa said that ideally the ex­pro­pri­a­tion bill cur­rently in Par­lia­ment would be ap­proved by the end of the year, but that slow pro­cesses were cre­at­ing fur­ther un­cer­tainty. The ex­pro­pri­a­tion bill, which will in the main be au­thored by the depart­ment of pub­lic works, will elab­o­rate the ex­act word­ing of the amend­ments as it will out­line the con­di­tions un­der which the state can ex­pro­pri­ate land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

On whether or not the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment would still be nec­es­sary even if the state was suc­cess­ful in its con­sti­tu­tional test, Kodwa af­firmed that it would.

“Even if the Con­sti­tu­tional Court rules in our favour on the amend­ment it will still take place be­cause ab­so­lute clar­ity is im­por­tant. What we don’t want to hap­pen is that we leave that lack of clar­ity to chance and then, in two or three years, we re­alise that we should have sought clar­ity. Then we must go back to a process.

“We want to sat­isfy our­selves [so we won’t need] to go back to this process of amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. We want long-term cer­tainty.”

In a separate in­ter­view with City Press this week, NEC mem­ber Ronald Lamola de­nied that the ANC was be­ing strong-armed by an elec­toral threat posed by the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers, who have cham­pi­oned the land is­sue.

Lamola re­it­er­ated that the ANC has con­ceded its fail­ure to move with speed on the land ques­tion since it came into power. How­ever, he said, this did not mean that it would aban­don due process just in or­der to be seen to be act­ing.

The for­mer ANC Youth League leader said the party was also con­sid­er­ing a tax for va­cant land owned by so-called ab­sent land­lords as a way to free up land.

“Out­side of ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion, what we would also want to do to va­cate land is to put a land tax on it, or a form of levy. If, for ex­am­ple, you want to live on an es­tate, you know that if you don’t build some­thing by a cer­tain time, you can lose your stand.

“So we need the same to hap­pen to va­cant land: a per­son must know that they must use it or be forced to sell it or pay a tax. That will also lower the prop­erty prices be­cause there will be land avail­able in abun­dance in the mar­ket,” Lamola said.

On the con­tentious is­sue of com­mu­nal land, the NEC mem­ber said that the party was weigh­ing up the best form of se­cu­rity ten­ure for in­di­vid­u­als.

“We are still strug­gling with this one and this is why we want the depart­ment of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment to com­mis­sion some sort of study to ad­vise us.

“We have said that maybe we need to give ti­tle deeds to ru­ral peo­ple. But there are those say­ing: ‘Look at the same ru­ral peo­ple in five to 10 years’ time. They will be dis­pos­sessed be­cause oth­ers are go­ing to come and buy these peo­ple out, or there will be con­tes­ta­tion over com­mer­cial in­ter­ests, [such as] the build­ing of malls and so on.

“As we speak now about com­mu­nal land, one of the rea­sons why black peo­ple still own prop­erty in ru­ral ar­eas is be­cause it is cheap. If you put a ti­tle deed there, the com­mer­cial value of the as­sets will go up.

“So we may do that with the ti­tle deeds and have the unintended con­se­quence of tak­ing ru­ral prop­erty from the ru­ral peo­ple,” he warned.

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PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

EN­SUR­ING FOOD SE­CU­RITY A farm worker tills a field with a trac­tor in Hen­nen­man in the Free State

Ronald Lamola

Zizi Kodwa

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