Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency/ANA
The ANC’s failure to adequately explain the scope of land reform means that even if the constitution is changed, actual reform could be years away, experts warn.

This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa has been accused of undermining the public hearing process, which entered its final leg in the Western Cape this week.

He announced, ahead of the conclusion of public consultations into the amendment of the constitution, that the ANC would propose the amendment to Parliament, outlining conditions for expropriation of land without compensation.

The last of the 34 hearings held across the country took place at the Friends of God Church in Goodwood on Saturday.

The church was packed to capacity, with still many more people queuing outside.

Lewis Nzimande, co-chairperson of the constitutional review committee, said even though the hall was packed and “emotions” ran high, “the people of South Africa were orderly and tolerant”.

Co-chairperson of the committee Vincent Smith said he was confident the process was democratic.

“Everyone who wanted an opportunity to speak, was allowed to speak. The committee allowed for democracy to prevail,” Smith said.

In a submission to the committee, Roscoe Jacobs, deputy chairperson of the ANC in Hout Bay, said he supported the amendment.

“We need land to be given back to the people. We also need to ensure that state land is not sold to private people,” Jacobs said.

He said people needed access to safer housing.

“We need to stop talking and start implementing,” he said.

Tania Kleinhans-Cedras, secretary-general of the Institute for the Restoration of the Aborigines of SA in her submission, said the constitution had “completely marginalised and displaced our claim as the sovereign aboriginal Khoisan people”.

“Therefore, an amendment to the preamble recognising the sovereign aboriginal Khoisan peoples is not to fragment this nation.

“Moreover, it is our legitimate right which has come at the cost for the rights of the non-aboriginal Khoisan peoples,” Kleinhans-Cedras said.

Deputy chairperson of portfolio committee on rural development and land reform Pumzile Mnguni said the ANC was the first to resolve on land expropriation without compensation.

“It has subsequently been evolving in Parliament. In Parliament we have been doing some laws as the rural development land reform portfolio committee.

“Laws like the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, which is now before the presidency to be signed - it is an amendment - to make sure that people are not evicted and victimised on farms and everywhere else.”

DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said the DA fully supported land reform and restitution, but the issue of land needed to be fast-tracked by government.

“We do not support the amendment because it’s not an impediment to land reform.”

Johan Roets, a member of the Cape Party, in his submission said he firmly believed that section 25 should not be amended. He said changes to section 25 would result in “poverty, anarchy and disorder”.

Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) secretary and legal expert Lawson Naidoo said: “At the end of the day it is less about changing the constitution or legislation, but the ability of the state to act and do something on land reform and redistribution of land. This is what is important for this process. This move undermines the process that is under way.”

DA MP Thomas Walters said the ANC was using the matter to hide the failures of land reform policies.

“About 90% of the government’s land reform projects are failing. The very state that failed to reform land in South Africa now wants to take control of the land; this will only be a formula for disaster,” said Walters.

The Banking Association of SA warned against the expropriation of land without compensation, saying it needed to be handled without hurting the industry and economy.

Banks are sitting on more than R160 billion in loans by commercial farmers.

The EFF and IFP have reiterated the calls for land to be expropriated without compensation.

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu said all land, including that held by traditional leaders, should be expropriated as soon as possible to allow the state to be the sole custodian.

He said expropriating land would not have a negative impact on food security, and foreign investors.

Weekend Argus