Its an important statement as it reiterates that “Land Expropriation without Compensation” is already allowed in our Constitution and includes the fact that Private land is not the target, but the government is focused on using every inch of underutilised land in South Africa.
The biggest problem we face as South Africans is that our main-stream media and social media are sharing opinions that have somehow turned into fact, and people are starting to believe the most outrageous statements BUT we believe that the MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do as South Africans is educate ourselves on what the current political narrative is and what that might mean for us.
Luckily, after months of uncertainty, the President has finally stepped up and listed what “Land Expropriation without Compensation” will entail.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says a programme of land redistribution is required to heal the historical “festering wound” of land dispossession and enable the transformation and development without which South Africa will experience instability.
The intention of the proposed amendment is to strengthen the property rights of all South Africans and to reinforce the transformative nature of our Constitution.
It gives greater force to the requirement in the Bill of Rights, which says: “The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.”
It’s about strengthening all rights
“The proposals will not erode property rights, but will instead ensure that the rights of all South Africans, and not just those who currently own land, are strengthened,” the president said.
The goal is to make land accessible to those who work the land – and that those rights are also protected. The EFF’s policy of nationalising all land to be state-owned is not the goal.
According to StatsSA, more than two-thirds of households in the lowest income quintile spend more than 20% of their monthly household income per capita on public transport.
But the progressive transformation of our urban spaces is not just about radically addressing social poverty and racial inequities.
“We must make our cities generators of wealth and reservoirs of productivity. We need to eradicate the economic inefficiencies of transporting a workforce from dormitory townships into centres.
The radical transformation of our urban spaces is, therefore, both a social and economic imperative.
To accelerate spatial transformation, Cabinet resolved at its recent lekgotla on the rapid release of well-located, but under-utilised land to develop affordable, mixed-income human settlement.”
This is not Zimbabwe 2.0
Alluding to assessments that South Africa was doing what Zimbabwe did before its land grab crisis (and subsequent economic crash), Ramaphosa said that South Africa has learnt from the experiences of other countries, and will not make the same mistakes that “other countries” have made.
“We need to use every inch of underutilised land for our people to live on and to farm. We have a responsibility – imposed on us by the Constitution – to ensure that all South Africans have security of tenure.
While extending title deeds to a greater number of households is a priority, we should also secure less expensive and less complicated forms of tenure for households in informal settlements, in rental arrangements and in areas of communal land tenure.
We need to develop a continuum of use and ownership tenure rights.
We are committed to using expropriation, where appropriate, to achieve social and economic spatial transformation in towns and cities.”
Changing the Constitution is for clarity
It is based on an understanding that the Constitution, as it currently stands, allows for expropriation without compensation in certain circumstances. The proposal is intended to make explicit what is currently implicit in the Constitution.
This announcement does not undermine nor does it preempt the outcome of the public consultation process.
Much like the pronouncements of other political parties – including the pronouncements by the Honourable Leader of the Opposition – this position will guide the contribution of its Members in the Parliamentary process.
Once Parliament has adopted a position on the matter, it will become government’s responsibility to implement.
As I indicated during the 2018 State of the Nation Address, government is determined that land reform should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.
On the ANC’s plan to change the Constitution to make land expropriation without compensation an explicit rule, the president said that the Constitution, as it is currently written, already makes provision for that. Instead, what the ANC wants is certainty and clarity, he said.
“The proposed amendment would need to reinforce the fundamental principles of the property clause, which, among other things, prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of property and holds that expropriation is possible in the public interest subject to just and equitable compensation.
“It also says that no provision can impede the process of land reform to redress the results of past racial discrimination.”
Private land is not the target
Ramaphosa also echoed statements made by deputy president David Mabuza in explaining the state’s intentions with land expropriation, saying that privately owned land that is being used (especially for commercial agricultural purposes) is not the target.
“There have been several suggestions on when expropriation without compensation may be justified. These include, for instance, unused land, derelict buildings, purely speculative land holdings, or circumstances where occupiers have strong historical rights and title holders do not occupy or use their land, such as labour tenancy, informal settlements and abandoned inner-city buildings,” Ramaphosa said.
Mabuza said that state-owned land – including that which is owned by SOEs – are first in line for redistribution.
The plans are long-term
The government won’t dish out land to farmers and that’s the end of it. According to Ramaphosa, the land expropriation plans are long term, with government assisting and supporting those who are beneficiaries of the move.
“It is essential that support is given to beneficiaries of land redistribution through financing, training, market access, irrigation and the provision of seeds, fertiliser and equipment, all of which contribute to the sustainability of emerging agricultural enterprises,” he said.
This is a moral and social imperative
Because of South Africa’s past, where the majority were forced onto only 10% of the land under apartheid – and the incredibly delayed process of reparations over the last 25 years – the question of land reform is a moral, social and economic imperative, Ramaphosa said.
By equipping the majority, who were robbed of the opportunity to be productive, with the tools and support structures to become productive, the state is trying to develop more meaningful and inclusive growth in the country.
“For the South African economy to reach its full potential, it is necessary to significantly narrow gaps in income, skills, assets and opportunities,” the president said.
The truth of the matter is that we ALL need to be helping the poorest of the poor! The current “land expropriation” narrative may or may not do that. Perhaps the most vulnerable of our citizens will get the land they have been promised for the last 22 years & be able to uplift themselves but the truth is, it might all be electioneering which won’t really help anyone.
And then next year, there will still be 4,5 million South African children who will go to bed hungry every night.
Maybe we need to stop fearing the unknown and listening to bad political propaganda.
Maybe we need to put that focus into rather making a difference for those in need in our country because in reality, individuals and corporates are the ones that have truly stepped up to help in the last 22 years… not the government.
We can only rise by lifting others, and if we really want better neighbourhoods, then I think we all need to start being better neighbours.