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ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola must have left the Unisa yesterday feeling encouraged about how the youth there were embracing the policy positions of the youth league.
Lamola and other youth league leaders, including NEC member Andile Lungisa and deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi, attended a youth league dialogue entitled “Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime” at the Unisa Muckleneuck campus in Pretoria.
Most of the students were in agreement with the league on the issues of nationalisation of mines and expropriation of land without compensation, but some cautioned Lamola about the rhetoric used to advocate for these policies.
A white political science student at the campus even told Lamola that she felt excluded from the discussion even though she was a young person who was passionate about the country’s future.
Lamola charmed his way throughout the discussion with the students, but remained firm that these were policies that, if adopted in Mangaung in December, would change the livelihoods of millions of poor South Africans.
Addressing the dialogue, Lamola reiterated the league’s call for an amendment to be made to the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
“It is only through the amendment to the constitution that we can equitably redistribute this country’s land. It is about time that we remove the sunset clauses and correct this situation where the majority of the country’s land was owned by the minority.”
He said it was disturbing that those who had the land were not voluntarily selling it to the government as the current willing-seller, willing-buyer policy had envisaged.
“They have to be forced by the courts, or by policy, to give up the land. If we don’t do that they will simply hold on to the land.
“Why does government have to negotiate with one individual if it needs land to build houses for the poor or give farming land to people who need it the most?” asked Lamola.
He said economic analysts were spreading fears about investors abandoning South Africa if nationalisation or the youth league proposed land policy was adopted.
“They must not lie to the people. We may not be economic experts, but we understand world trends. Investors run because of economic policy uncertainty and political instability, not because government is intervening in certain sectors,” Lamola said.
“If that was the case, what is De Beers doing in Botswana when they know they have to share their profits with the government and the people of Botswana?
“Investors want to know what policy is in place so they know what they are getting themselves into. No investors will leave South Africa,” said Lamola.
Some of the students told Lamola that there was no certainty that corruption would not steal away the profits from the mines if they were nationalised.
They also raised concerns that government was not doing enough to provide quality education to the youth, saying this resulted in skills shortage in critical sectors.
Many students, however, were adamant that expropriation without compensation was the most effective way to redistribute land to the poor.