THE ANC intends to push the limits of the Constitution as it presses ahead with the expropriation of land without compensation.
The announcement was made late in May, following a weekend summit that looked at the best ways to go with returning land to blacks.
National executive committee (NEC) member Ronald Lamola said despite plans already having been set in motion to amend section 25 of the Constitution, they would test the current clause as it is to see how far it can allow for expropriation.
“Our view is that section 25 as it currently stands allows us to expropriate without compensation. But the debate has been that it has not been tested. So we are saying is that let’s put section 25 to the test,” he said.
Lamola further added the party would continue to push ahead with its December resolution of the Redistribution Bill to be introduced to assist the process. He said they would test the bill within the courts to see if it could stand.
“After that Bill put in place we will look into the possibility of the President taking the Bill to the Constitutional court to test its constitutionality. That will then cut out the red tape and give clarity. So the position of the ANC is that there is nothing that must stop us from achieving the position of national conference,” Lamola said.
The summit looked at the issue of land holistically, including the issue of farm dwellers. Lamola said it was discussed that the farmlands need to be expropriated and distributed to farm dwellers in the form of title deeds. Many farm dwellers work on farms for many years and end up burying their lived ones on the land they don’t own. They end up being kicked off the land when their services are no longer required, leaving behind their loved ones.
“The plight of farmworkers and labour tenants was also a particular issue of concern, as millions of them continue to face insecurity in the land of their birth. The NEC will be asked to take decisions that will ensure that particular measures are taken to protect farm workers and dwellers, and that their continued precarious position in our society is addressed. The ANC’s 54th Conference resolution on Land Redistribution is a call to action, to decisively break with the historical injustice of colonial, apartheid and patriarchal patterns of land ownership, and to build a South Africa that belongs to all,” he said.
Chair of the economic transformation sub-committee Enoch Godongwana made it known that the organization not afraid of going toe-to-toe with but wanted to democratize communal land and ensure security for those it belongs to.
He said the party admitted to making mistakes, including incorrectly following the guidelines of the 1975 Land Act which advocated for expropriation based on market value.
“It would be disingenuous of us not to admit that a lot of mistakes over the past 20 years have been made. If you take the willing buyer willing seller, you look at every document of the ANC you will never find it. But our government mistakenly followed that,” he said.
Those who had gathered at the conference also touched on the thorny issue of traditional land ownership. Former President Kgalema Motlanthe called for something to be done about traditional leaders who have held the government to ransom by claiming land that does not belong to them.
Spokesperson Pule Mabe said the summit also received input from and noted the report of the Motlanthe High Level Panel on Assessment of Key Legislation & Acceleration of Fundamental Change, and recommended that the ANC further engage with the specific issues raised and the recommendations outlined in the report, including engagements with traditional leaders and communities living on communal land.
“The workshop outcomes document to the NEC will contain recommendations on accelerating urban land redistribution, so that we decisively change the apartheid geography of our cities and towns and unlock economic value in townships, villages and small dorpies,” Mabe said.
The organization also identified the need for a South African agrarian revolution as a key component of land redistribution, promoting small holder farmers, and working together with emerging and existing farmers.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the summit looked at the growing need for housing in urban areas and how land expropriation can help alleviate that growing need. He said they were moving forward to the NEC meeting and would discuss the outcomes of the land summit and after, would then be able to outline a more clear position.
“We also had an opportunity to deal with urban land and what should be done about it. Especially where there is a hunger for land and houses,” he said.