PARLIAMENT has given the green light to the amendment of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
In what will go down in the history of South Africa as a watershed moment, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema brought the motion and it was supported by the majority of Members of Parliament.
Malema’s motion was adopted thanks to 241 votes in support and only 83 voting against it.
“The time for reconciliation is over, now is the time for justice,” Malema said when he opened the debate.
He added that the move was no revenge against white people but rather addressing the injustices of the past.
Originally, the motion called for the establishment of an ad hoc committee, which had to report back to Parliament by the end of May. The African National Congress proposed an amendment which the EFF did not oppose.
Former Minister of Rural Development Gugile Nkwinti, said his party was in support of the move. The ANC adopted the policy at its December Conference.
“The ANC unequivocally supports the principle of land expropriation without compensation. There is no doubt about it, the land shall be expropriated without compensation,” he said.
The issue of land has been a bone of contention since the conference with many believing that ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa would not advocate for the policy.
The support of Malema’s motion proved to the naysayers that the party was dead serious on undoing the wrongs of the past.
The decision was however rejected by some opposition parties. The Democratic Alliance, Congress of the People, African Christian Democratic Party and Freedom Front Plus opposed the motion.
DA MP Thandeka Mbabama said there was an indisputable need to right the wrongs of the past, but expropriation without compensation cannot be part of the solution.
“We want to make it unequivocally clear that the DA is completely committed to redressing the history of violent land dispossession in South Africa and we recognise the unjust legacy left by this dispossession.
“We view land reform as a social justice imperative which all South Africans must rally around. This should never be used as a tool to score cheap political points or to use the scars of the past to further divide the nation,” she said.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald questioned what would happen to the land once it was expropriated from the majority of white owners.
He said the move would have serious consequences going forward.
“If you continue on this course, I can assure you there is going to be unforeseen consequences that is not in the interest of South Africa,” he said.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota also criticised the move. He said there was a danger that those who think equality in our lifetime equates that we must dominate whites. He said that stance did not represent the ANC but rather the PAC.
“This is the PAC of 1959, it’s no longer the African National Congress,” Lekota bemoaned as he walked away from the podium.
The ANC’s chief whip in Parliament welcomed the decision. Spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli said they welcomed the instinctive to the Constitutional Review Committee to report back to Parliament by 30 August.
“The resolution by the National Assembly is in line with the resolution of the 54th National Conference of the ANX which resolved that the ANC should, as a matter of policy, perdue expropriation of land without compensation.
“Conference resolved that this should be pursued without destabilising the agricultural sector, without endangering food security,” she said.