PRETORIA - The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) was at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday, delivering boxes containing names of nearly 160,000 South Africans who are opposed to the much punted expropriation of land without compensation.
"Today is a special day for us. Since about May last year, we have been asking South Africans, ordinary people across this country, people like you and me to sign our petition. The petition is quite simple ... tell Cyril [President Cyril Ramaphosa] what you think about expropriation without compensation (EWC). In the vast majority of cases, people are deadly opposed to EWC," the IRR's head of strategic operations Sihle Ngobese, popularly known as Big Daddy Liberty, addressed journalists outside the seat of government.
"Why? People understand what it means. It means essentially giving politicians the power to confiscate property, to confiscate goods from us. When we talk about property, it's not just land. EWC and other policy proposals will be giving politicians to confiscate those goods from ordinary, hardworking people like you and me, essentially, without compensation."
Ngobese said the 160,000 signatures represent names of ordinary South Africans from all walks of life.
"We oppose EWC, and we bring the people's voices into the [Union Buildings] behind us," he said.
The IRR believes Parliament's nationwide public consultation process on the contentious topic was a sham.
"Various interest groupings, not necessarily ordinary people's voices, mainly political parties were the ones dominating these proceeding. In addition to that, written submissions were requested by Parliament, that came in and the vast majority of those were in opposition to EWC. However, that is not the narrative you heard from the politicians. Why? Because they had already preset and predetermined exactly what they wanted to tell us, the public," said Ngobese.
The IRR warned that weakening property rights in South Africa through the current drive for expropriating property without compensation will damage the country's economic prospects significantly and undermine important and necessary efforts to broaden land ownership both in urban and rural areas, and to protect and nurture the country’s vital agricultural economy.
African News Agency (ANA)