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The EFF’s approach to land reform is absolutely wrong and would be catastrophic, says Tshepo Diale.
Johannesburg - I have read in the various newspapers that the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, mentioned that land taken from black people since 1913 by white people should be taken back from white people without compensation.
The EFF’s approach to land reform is absolutely wrong and would be catastrophic. Malema should know two wrongs do not make a right. He needs to know that South Africans are not fooled by his opportunistic attitude.
His desperate attempt to be the so-called next president will lead South Africa into chaos. Malema should not seek votes at the expense of the poor. He should not say what people want to hear with the aim of gathering votes. The land question is one of the most emotive issues in our history and present and must be handled with the utmost care, not carelessly or callously.
Malema is not bringing sustainable solutions to the issue of land reform in our country
In fact, he’s making the situation worse. However, I agree with Malema that the masses in this country are hungry for land, they want to return to their ancestral land. It’s his reasoning in arriving at this conclusion for which there is no basis.
There is no denying that there is a need for restitution, but the process needs to be handled in an orderly and sustainable way.
The history of conquest, collusion, alliance, dispossession and migration, as well as of tribal, ethnic, class and national identity formation and of changes in tenure regimes is dense, complex and needs to be addressed sensitively.
The need for the restitution of rights in land to the victims of forced removal finds expression primarily in Section 25 (2) of our constitution.
The restitution process as cited in the above-mentioned section is expressed in detail in the Restitution of Land Rights Act No. 22 of 1994, as amended.
The Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights is responsible for giving effect to both the constitutional provision and the above-mentioned act.
Section 25 (Act 108 of 1996) protects the right to property, including land rights, and also obliges the state to implement a variety of land reforms.
So despite concern from certain parties, property rights are enshrined in the constitution. Section 25 explicitly states: no one may be deprived of property except in terms of the law of general application and no law may permit the arbitrary deprivation of property.
Therefore, it is illegal for any person to take anyone else’s property without compensation.
What Malema has correctly pointed out is that the issue of the willing-buyer and the willing-seller principle has failed and it has failed the land reform programme.
The government has acknowledged that the land reform programmes implemented to date have not been sustainable and of the seven million hectares transferred through restitution, there have not been many instances of continued productivity and economic gain to the new occupants.
These issues, if they are not addressed, will continue to plague the government and frustrate the poor.
The plight of the poor and the oppressed cannot be ignored and should not be left unattended.
It is an everyday reality that our rural communities are living in very unfavourable conditions.
The transformation of South Africa towards the vision of the ANC’s Freedom Charter of 1955 must happen and it must happen now. “The people shall share in the wealth of the country,” said the Freedom Charter all those years ago.
But the responsibility in realising this vision does not lie with the government alone; it lies with all the people of South Africa, the bricks and mortar of our country.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.