Johannesburg - The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday said the ruling African National Congress' (ANC) announcement that it intended to change the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation was a ruse to "divert us from the real solution for SA".
DA MP Thomas Walters, who shadows the department of rural development and land reform, said his party "will stand firmly behind the property clauses in section 25 of the Constitution and in the process stand firm behind the rights of the poor to be included in the economy".
He said the decision on expropriation was made in an "atmosphere of a divided ANC, increasingly seen as failing to lead South Africa out of poverty and inequality, riven with corruption and maladministration – that is trying to reposition itself as a party of radical economic transformation".
Walters said in the process the ANC has "shown again that it is unwilling to face up to the real challenges of our society, choosing diversion from the real issues rather than facing up to the real challenges in land reform".
He said land reform in South Africa was not saddled with a flawed constitution but is characterised by enormous failure of land reform projects in its care, massive corruption and mismanagement, a hesitancy to provide the poor with private title deeds, poor administration of land claims and related processes; and poor resource and budget allocation by an incapable state.
The DA MP said none of these issues were addressed by calls to amend the constitution. "In fact, these calls are all presupposed on a bigger role for the government in effecting change – the very government that has failed in the first place."
Walters said the constitution was being misrepresented as protecting the property rights of a few at the expense of the many – a flawed compromise of the early nineties – rather than what it truly is; a constitution that "protects the property rights of the poor and vulnerable against arbitrary loss to a rapacious and divisive state driven by narrow interests".
He added: "It is exactly to protect against governments like what the ANC has become who repeatedly demonstrate that government policy is subservient to party interests, that the constitution was drafted".
Walters said rather than looking at how the constitution can be given real effect by extending property rights to more South Africans, thus including more people in ownership in the economy, and protecting the rights of such first-time property owners, the ANC has chosen to make the poor more vulnerable and more excluded.
"The DA will stand up for our country’s constitution and property rights in the face of an ANC government which only seeks to enrich themselves at the expense of the people."
African News Agency/ANA