This statement follows a joint-opposition press conference at Parliament by the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Congress of the People (COPE), Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).
Today, in a convenient coalition, the ANC, NFP and EFF voted to take land rights away from South Africans and decided to use their majority to recommend that Parliament should amend Section 25 to allow for land expropriation without compensation. The Democratic Alliance (DA), the Congress of the People (COPE), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) oppose this amendment and voted against the adoption of the Constitutional Review Committee’s flawed report.
The vote on expropriation without compensation allows government the perfect cover to avoid having to explain their rank failure over the past two decades to take land reform seriously.
That is why the ANC has adopted it with such enthusiasm when they voted against it last year.
From the outset, the ANC has sought to undermine the work and processes of the Committee in an attempt to expedite their electioneering tactics.
We are of the view that the Parliamentary process was merely a formality and that the adoption of this report was in fact a forgone conclusion.
The Opposition does not oppose land reform, we oppose the amendment of the Constitution.
We want to make it unequivocally clear that we are committed to redressing the violent history of land dispossession in this country.
The land issue is a delicate and sensitive one. It is indeed a social justice imperative which all South African must rally around.
Sadly, the land issue has been used by some political parties as a political gimmick to score cheap political points and to further deepen the divisions in our society.
South Africa requires a land policy which empowers and supports black beneficiaries of land reform through the adequate funding of programmes and genuine commitment from government. Changing the Constitution will not do this.
South Africa does not have a Constitutional problem, we have an ANC problem.
The Constitution is not the barrier to land reform, but corruption, constrained budgets and a lack of political will on the part of the ruling ANC have contributed to the delays in land redistribution process.
The ANC and the EFF have essentially pushed this report through the Committee, despite errors in procedure that have been willfully committed by the Committee and some of its members.
The Opposition is of the view that the final report is flawed as integral parts of the report are yet to be finalised.
All submissions should be treated equally, and the Committee failed in its duty to include all valid submissions as this was not done for written submission in the process. Hundreds of thousands of written submissions were arbitrarily disregarded and access to all submissions was limited. The committee has thus not engaged, meaningfully or at all, with the contents of the written submissions.
While the CRC’s public hearings were still underway, President Ramaphosa pre-empted the outcome of the process with his late-night announcement that expropriation without compensation would proceed regardless. This had the effect of silencing those not yet heard by the committee. Additionally, the public hearings were characterised by high levels of intimidation and bullying with incidents of racial attacks on, and threats against speakers casting further doubt over the integrity of the process.
Expropriation without compensation holds a real and tangible threat not only to existing land rights of all South Africans but also threatens investment, the banking industry and food security due to the fact that “property” is not limited to land.
Expropriation without compensation does not address the real constraints in land reform. Other constraints including increasing evidence of corruption by officials, the diversion of the land reform budget to elites, lack of political will, inefficiency and lack of training and capacity have proved to be the real stumbling blocks to land reform.
The current Constitutional provisions adequately allows for progressive land reform, restitution and the protection of tenure security and land rights. Successful land reform doesn’t require amending the Constitution.
Other mechanisms and legislative measures have not been exhausted. Parliament through the failed leadership of the ANC has not enacted appropriate legislation to lend effect to constitutional provisions that currently exist.
South Africa suffers from a history of systematic exclusion of black people from land ownership, facilitated by discriminatory laws. The effect of this dispossession was to destroy the intergenerational wealth creation potential of black families, and to leave many South Africans without legally protected ownership of land. It is a betrayal of these communities that the real issues in land reform is not going to be addressed by the failing ANC and their enablers.