President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - In a  televised address President Cyril Ramaphosa, after the ANC’s national executive committee lekgotla, said that the ruling party would, through the parliamentary process, finalise a proposed amendment to the Constitution that outlined more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.

This comes after a warning from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding land.

He said it was clear that people wanted the Constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as was shown during the land hearings.

“A proper reading of the Constitution on the property clause enables the state to effect expropriation of land with just and equitable compensation and also expropriation without compensation in the public interest. There is also a growing body of opinion, by a number of South Africans, that the Constitution as it stands does not impede expropriation of land without compensation,” he said.

“The lekgotla reaffirmed its position that a comprehensive land reform programme that enables equitable access to land will unlock economic growth by bringing more land in South Africa to full use and enable the productive participation of millions more South Africans in the economy,” he added, noting that the intention of the amendment was to promote redress, advance economic development, and increase agricultural production and food security.

The amendment would also transform the unjust spatial realities in urban areas, Ramaphosa added. But on Monday, the IMF warned that the current land debate was undermining the credibility of the government’s stated priorities to attract investment.

“In line with best international experience, land reform should focus on enhancing agricultural productivity, improving land administration to strengthen security of tenure, and reducing poverty. At the same time, there is a need to mitigate any potential negative effects of land reform on the agricultural base and the financial spillovers from changes in the value of land as collateral,” it said.

The IMF said the government would have to finely balance both social and economic considerations when deciding the type of land to be redistributed, pointing out that expropriating land without compensating its owners would potentially turn away investors.

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

Ramaphosa noted: “We thought that it was important for the president of the ANC to clearly and unambiguously articulate the position of the organisation on two matters that are critical to the economic development of our country and the well-being of its people.” ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was due to speak today on issues of governance, social development and broader transformation.

Ramaphosa moved to announce that the government was working on a stimulus package aimed at arresting the situation a day after the release of dire unemployment figures.

Ramaphosa said a package to ignite growth in the economy would be based on existing budgetary resources and the pursuit of new investment while remaining committed to fiscal prudence.

This comes as the latest figures from Statistics SA showed that unemployment rose further in the second quarter to 27.2% from 26.7% in the first quarter. The expanded unemployment rate, which includes people who have given up on looking for a job, surged to 32.2%.

StatsSA said the embattled manufacturing sector led the jobs bloodbath with 108 000 jobs lost during the quarter, while community and social services shed 96 000 jobs and trade 58 000. 

It was against the backdrop of rising unemployment that Ramaphosa announced that the stimulus package would be based on:

  • increased investment in public infrastructure;    
  • increased support for entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for youth and women, as well as small and medium businesses;    
  • trade support measures for sectors such as sugar and products affected by big import surges;    
  • ensure that procurement focuses on localisation; and      
  • training for unemployed young South Africans with the skills necessary to compete in a rapidly changing economy. 

Ramaphosa said the latest stats on unemployment were worrying. “Our economy is facing serious challenges. The recently released figures on unemployment are worrying. Given this economic environment, the lekgotla directed government to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite growth that will lead to the creation of jobs, especially for young people and women,” he said.

Political Bureau