Picture by Sibusiso Ndlovu

The ANC insists it will support the amendment of the constitution to enable the expropriation of land without compensation, despite warnings from the International Monetary Fund that this would hamper the country’s investment drive.

Yesterday, the governing party said it was clear that South Africans wanted the country’s constitution to be amended for the purposes of the expropriation of land without compensation.

This comes as the parliamentary review committee is concluding its countrywide public hearings on the possible amendment of section 25 of the constitution.

ANC head of economic transformation Enoch Godongwana said the party had made it clear after it adopted the resolution to expropriate the land without compensation at Nasrec last year that it would consider “tampering” with the constitution if it became necessary to do so.

“Among other things we said we are going to test that in court and secondly we put a proviso that in the circumstances we will look at tampering with section 25 2(b).

“We said the constitution embodies our democratic values and has got transformative impulses which we will use the constitutional review process to strengthen and clarify,” he said.

Godongwana, speaking in the wake of the party’s national executive committee lekgotla early this week, said it was clear through the land hearings that South Africans were in support of the amendment.

“We cannot ignore the voices of our people, that is what we are saying.

“We have been watching all the public hearings and we have been meeting people in different places as part of interaction with the people, and clearly there is an overwhelming view.

“Even if there should be clarity of purpose under which conditions we will do the expropriation without compensation,” Godongwana said.

The IMF’s annual policy report on South Africa said that while the government had managed to achieve a balancing act in terms of deciding on land to be redistributed, expropriating land without compensating its owners would turn investors away.

“The ‘without compensation’ clause, which has accentuated uncertainty over property rights, is identified as a concern for investment,” the report said.

Godongwana said the ANC could not ignore that a number of people needed clarity, which had to be provided not only through legislation but through the constitution as well.

“An investment community wants a legal framework that is clear. What we are trying to do for that community is to provide a legal framework which is going to be clear for everybody that if you invest in South Africa, these are the rules of the game.

“For the purposes of the IMF as well, it is useful to have clear-cut rules of the game,” Godongwana said.

On Tuesday on national television, President Cyril Ramaphosa caused a stir when he publicly revealed that the party had decided to support the amendment of the constitution and interventions in the economy.

“It has become patently clear that our people want the constitution to be more explicit about the expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings,” Ramaphosa said.