ANC chairperson in KZN Sihle Zikalala Picture: Independent Media

Durban – The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal will soon lobby its supporters and members of the public to apply pressure on the national government to take the issue of expropriation of land without compensation to a referendum, said ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala.

Zikalala told the provincial parliament in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday it was only through a referendum that South Africans would have a view on how the heated debate on land should be resolved.

“As the ANC we are going to discuss the matter internally and also lobby outside through public hearings because it is important that we should have expropriation of land without compensating the farmers,” he said.

“As the ANC and government in KZN, we are saying the land should be given back to the people and that should be done with immediate effect.”

Zikalala’s call for a referendum received support from the DA, which said public participation would bring an amicable solution to the matter.

But the EFF, NFP and IFP rejected the proposal.

Zikalala said President Jacob Zuma’s call for a more radical approach to the issue of land reform was encouraging.

“We must be brave to point out that some of the challenges we are facing in speeding up land reform was the programme of reconciling with the enemy that does not forgive nor forget,” he said.

He said this “so important issue” could no longer be left to be resolved by parliamentarians alone. “As the ANC we call for a referendum on the expropriation of land without compensation,” he said.

The EFF, which has also been vocal on the land issue, this week offered its 6% representation in Parliament to the ANC, which needs a two-thirds majority to amend the constitution, to enable it to implement expropriation of land without compensation.

However, the ruling party rejected the offer, and Zikalala on Thursday accused the “opportunistic” EFF of turning the issue of land into a “political football”.

“We would never fall into a trap of opposition parties who are grandstanding,” he said.

DA MPL Francois Rodgers also believed that a referendum was a way of engaging with the people.

“We have always acknowledged that land ownership is a problem, and it is something that we need to consult with the people about."

“We need to come up with an amicable solution that is going to benefit the people of the province,” he said.

NFP MPL Vikizitha Mlotshwa did not see the need for a referendum.

“The national government was supposed to change the legislation to allow people to get land without any compensation because the willing buyer, willing seller had totally failed."

“The EFF was correct to offer to work with the ANC in order for the law to be changed. As the NFP we also go with that view."

“The ANC was supposed to accept the EFF’s offer,” said Mlotshwa.

EFF MPL Vusi Khoza said the referendum would “unnecessarily” delay the expropriation of land.

“We know that people want land, and the only people who do not want expropriation without compensation are the ruling party.

“The ruling party used to say ‘we don’t have the two-third majority to amend the constitution', and now the EFF said take our 6% and the numbers to amend the constitution to remove that protection of private property rights, so that you can expropriate the land without compensation."

“Now they are shifting the goalpost to a referendum,” he said.

IFP MPL Joshua Mazibuko said there was no need for a referendum “because primarily the struggle was about land”.

“Kings and warriors fought because they wanted their land back."

“Our view is that there should be negotiations with the owner of the land, and if she or he is hard-headed then we should expropriate the land, but that person should be given whatever amount the state sees fit,” said Mazibuko.

The secretary-general of the Freedom Front Plus, Piet Uys, said the land referendum was a bad idea and something that was not necessary.

“Everything is clear about the ownership of land in the country, so what they want to do with that referendum is to use it as a propaganda tool, to try and get more votes."

Mandla Buthelezi, the president and one of the founders of the National African Farmers Union, said a referendum was a great opportunity for the community to speak for themselves.

"There is big disconnect between what the community says and believes about land and what the leaders and commentators say."

"This will be an opportunity for the community to speak for themselves and tell of their experiences in their communities," he said.

The Mercury