Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance. FILE PHOTO: ANA

Johannesburg - The public hearings on government's plans to expropriate land without compensation are not about consulting South Africans but about the African National Congress (ANC) ticking boxes, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Saturday.

"The purpose of these hearings is to hear from the people of South Africa as to whether and how section 25 of the Constitution requires changing to ramp up effective and economically empowering land reform," he said.

"Although, it appears the ANC does not care about the opinion of the people of this province. Because on Wednesday they announced that they will definitely be changing section 25 of the Constitution. So it appears these land hearings are about ticking boxes, not consulting South Africans."

Maimane was addressing the public outside of the Constitutional Review Committee land hearing in Goodwood, Cape Town.

On Tuesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as ANC president, announced that the two-day ANC lekgotla resolved to go ahead and amend section 25 of the Constitution and expropriate land without compensation. 

Maimane said that the DA was 100 percent committed to land reform, adding that the party believed that land reform was essential to "redress the ills of our past". 

"South Africa’s history of racial dispossession has left the country with skewed patterns of ownership that excludes most South Africans from land. This must be fixed. In fact, DA-run governments are miles ahead in terms of instituting real, meaningful land reform that empowers those left behind," he said. 

"By contrast, the ANC’s approach has been to put more land into state ownership and then lease it to black South Africans, turning them into perpetual tenants, dependent on the government for survival. This is not progress. However, over the past days and weeks, it has become clear that these hearings, and this debate, is not about the people and progress. It is about power and holding onto it."

Ramaphosa's announcement showed that he was not thinking about land or justice but about keeping the ANC together and neutralising the electoral threat of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Maimane said.

"Land expropriation without compensation is not the silver bullet that will ensure justice. In fact – the very opposite. It will undermine private property rights and hurt our economy and jobs. It will scare away investment which is vital for job creation and economic growth," he said.

On Wednesday, in announcing its decision to amend section 25 of the Constitution in order to expropriate land without compensation, the ANC said it was not undermining the ongoing public hearings being held by Parliament's constitutional review committee.

Chairman of ANC subcommittee on economic transformation, Enoch Godongwana, said the party recognised that an ''overwhelming'' number of South Africans want the constitution amended.

''Are we undermining the parliamentary processes? No...we are actually meeting the tail end of that process. People at public hearings throughout the country are clear...there is an overwhelming voice to amend and we cannot ignore the voices of our people,'' he told reporters in Johannesburg.

He said that the ANC's Ready to Govern document, which provides policy guidelines, will guide the party on what land can be expropriated.

On Saturday, Maimane called on South Africans to "reject populism, embrace constitutionalism, and work together" to build "one South Africa for all".

"Fellow South Africans, we need to face up to some hard truths. The ANC no longer works for the people. They tell us stories that are lies," Maimane said.

African News Agency/ANA