How political parties vow to tackle issue of land reform
Rustenburg - Land expropriation without compensation made news headlines when the National Assembly adopted the constitutional review committee's report recommending a constitutional amendment to expropriate land without compensation in 2018.
This followed nationwide public hearings on the review of section 25 of the Constitution to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation.
At least 209 members of Parliament voted in favour of the report, with 91 voting against it and no abstentions.
Going to the national election this week, left and right-leaning political parties have packaged their views on how best to deal with the land question in their manifestos.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is explicit on expropriation of land without compensation while the Democratic Alliance (DA) is opposed to the move.
The EFF said it would ensure that Section 25 of the Constitution is amended with immediate effect, should it be voted into government.
The land would be under the control of the State, half of it would be reserved for women and youth and foreign land ownership would be abolished.
"The EFF government will pass accompanying legislation such as a Land Redistribution Act and an Agrarian Reform Act," the party's manifesto reads.
An EFF-led government would establish a land ombudsman to ensure that people’s rights to the land were protected and not subjected to arbitrary abuse by state officials and injudicious mining companies.
Rentals of all residential land would be abolished and land for residential, agriculture and industrial usage would be provided for free.
The ANC said it would carry out a sustainable land reform programme that expanded participation in, and ownership of, agricultural production, advancing food security and helping reverse the apartheid spatial separation of cities and towns.
"This will be done through a range of measures, including expropriation without compensation," the oldest liberation movement in Africa stated in its manifesto.
The DA is opposed to the expropriation of land without compensation, stating that the current land reform programme was riddled with corruption, the diversion of the land reform budget to elites, lack of political will, and lack of training and capacity – all of which have proved serious stumbling blocks to meaningful land reform.
"Crucially, land reform initiatives run by the current government have not enabled more South Africans to own their own land. This failure has led our ruling party, so desperate to cling to power, to move to expropriate land without compensation – a move which will violate South Africans’ rights to private property ownership," the party stated.
The DA further stated that individual land ownership and property rights were a cornerstone of all successful liberal democracies, and these rights must be protected.
"We are directly opposed to the ANC and EFF’s plan to change the Constitution to allow government to expropriate land without compensation. This would make government the owner of all property and land, and citizens would have to rent their homes and land from government for life."
The Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus), representing the aspiration of mostly Afrikaners, said it understood the emotional impact that land ownership has on all South Africans, as such land must not be viewed through a commercial lens.
"Afrikaners want the assurance that a part of African soil belongs to them too. The FF Plus is strongly opposed to expropriation without compensation and is of the opinion that there is enough land available for redistribution, but that administrative stalling is causing delays to the detriment of the country," the party said.
The FF Plus was of the view that land that has been beneficiated through land reform projects and unused state-owned land should be redistributed immediately and after that, the "willing seller, willing buyer" principle must apply.
"In the case of expropriation in the public interest, the compensation must be market-related."
Congress of the People (Cope), an offshoot of the ANC, said all South Africans were fully engaged in the process of land reform to address restitution, redistribution, security of tenure, market-based valuations, partnership schemes and land administration involving all role players to ensure that the best policies for different needs are addressed in the best way possible to achieve a win-win situation.
"A more reliable and comprehensive audit on land ownership is undertaken to help inform strategic planning and practical strategies on land reform.
"Land expropriation to the extent that is necessary to achieve land reform will take place provided that all such expropriation will fully pass constitutional muster," the party said.
Black First Land First (BFL), which describes itself as a black consciousness, pan-Africanist and revolutionary socialist political party, said only eight percent of the land was delivered to black people over the past 20 years.
"It would take hundreds of years to buy back our land. Why are we buying our land back? We demand that all the land be nationalised without compensation and be equitably redistributed amongst the people," the party said in its manifesto.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said it would champion land expropriation with compensation, while African People's Convention (APC) calls for nationalisation of the land.
African News Agency (ANA)