The National Assembly has passed the Constitutional Review Committee report on land expropriation without compensation with more that 200 votes. The African National Congress, Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement, National Freedom Party, African Independent Congress and the African People’s Convention supported the report.
The report recommends that Section 25 of the constitution be amended to allow land expropriation without compensation.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), FF-Plus, ACDP, COPE and IFP were against the report.
When he opened the debate Co-Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee Stan Maila, told MPs that there is no difference between the Freedom Front-Plus and AfriForum. Maila was presenting the committee’s report. He rejected claims that the report was flawed due to the exclusion of written public submissions. AfriForum took parliament to court over the written submission debacle.
“With the FF-Plus there is a very thin line that separates this party from AfriForum. It might as well be said that in court, it was AfriForum and the FF-Plus. The litigation in question is mainly about written submissions. Written submissions are mainly made by those who are resourced. But being resourced is not a problem. The problem is whether written submissions make meaningful public participation. We learnt several lessons from this process is the production of computer generated template, designed by one person, populating the template with his view and allowing other people to factor in their names and contact numbers to be referred to as meaningful public participation.”
The DA has described the EFF-ANC land expropriation proposal as an election roadshow and a hoax. The DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach says her party does not support amendments to section 25 to allow land expropriation without compensation.
“The Democratic Alliance is opposed to an arbitrary amendment of the constitution. It is totally unnecessary. The constitution already allows land reform and encourages it. This election roadshow for the EFF paid for by parliament and supported by the ANC is nothing but a cruel hoax. It has allowed thousands of South Africans to believe that they will each receive a plot of land.”
When EFF Leader Julius Malema took to the stand during the debate he told the House that one of the critical observations during nationwide public hearings on land expropriation was to see how White South Africans were united in rejecting expropriation irrespective of whether they are landless, rich or poor.
“There is one thing that all of you must acknowledge that White people who came – poor or rich, the landless White people – all of them came in unison and opposed the expropriation of land without compensation, because the reality is that where White interest and White privilege is threatened, they protect one another. They don’t care whether the other one is in the wrong or not. Why would people think alike like that if it’s not an issue of racism and privileges which seeks to perpetuate landlessness among those who were conquered by criminals who came into our country and took our land.’
The National Freedom Party’s Sibusiso Mncwabe says expropriation of land without compensation is the only new strategy to fast track land reform as the willing buyer willing seller principle does not work.
“ The National Freedom Party supports the amendment of the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation. The NFP considered the willing buyer willing seller strategy to be the most accommodative first strategy the government used in addressing the land question. But sadly as we all know this strategy has been a dismal failure. And the budget could not carry it any further. This therefore means the new much radical but progressive strategy must be adopted and in our view that strategy is the expropriation of land without compensation.”
African People’s Convention Leader Themba Godi says the effort to amend section 25 of the constitution is an important step in the right direction.
“The APC joins all progressives in supporting the adoption of the CRC (Constitutional Review Committee) report, even though the mere amendment of section 25 does not herald the resolution of our agrarian and social challenges. It’s nonetheless a very important step in the right direction. For the Africanists, the land question is not just about fairness. It is at the core of the national question, national sovereignty and independence. Thus the APC will always support any move that contributes to the reversal of the humiliation and deprivation since centuries passed. The restoration of the dignity and humanity of the natives is their reconnection with the land.”
United Democratic Movement and member of the Constitutional Review Committee Mncedisi Filtane took MPs by surprise when he started his debate by singing the famous struggle song with the lyrics, “let them leave our land”. The UDM supported the committee report.
“The old order changes, leaving place to new. Lest one good custom spoil the whole world, unquote. The time for that change is now. For far too long millions of black South Africans have been landless, poor battle-some on the stage. This resulted in them being firm ground for restlessness. Research tells us that a restless community cannot focus on self-development.”
The African Independent Congress (AIC) leader Mandla Galo also supported the report.
“The amendment to the constitution of the republic of South Africa is to be a turning point to the people of South Africa and history-making. This amendment is about the healing of the wounds of the past and doing away with the attitude which existed when the land was annexed and occupied by force by those powers to be.”
The Inkhatha Freedom Party’s Elphas Buthelezi rejected the Constitutional Review Committee report.
“This government has failed. It cannot be trusted and it’s not doing this process in good faith. People of South Africa honourable chairperson must know who is rushing this report and what is in their interests. The answer to this can be found in the State Capture and VBS looting. The IFP rejects this report.”
The FF-Plus Chief Whip Corne Mulder blames the EFF for how Parliament ended up recommending a change to section 25 of the constitution.
“We are in this mess because the EFF tricked the ANC on the 27th of February to support their motion in this House. I warned the ANC Chief Whips but they didn’t listen. And from that moment the EFF had the initiative and the ANC followed. Even the final recommendation in the report was proposed by the EFF and seconded by the poor ANC. Today Parliament is being misled. We are today being misled by this report which will embarrass Parliament and it will embarrass the president. It’s not the product of public participation. It’s not the product of a debate.”
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) lader Kenneth Meshoe was against the report.
“Any amendment to section 25 has the potential to threaten food security, agricultural reform and discourse and discourage investments. Individual property rights must be protected and title deeds issued of the beneficiaries of land reform. The ACDP will definitely not support this report.”
Congress of the People’s Deidre Cater reiterated Meshoe’s sentiments.
“Land owners and the landless have spoken, researchers have spoken. experts have spoken, workers have spoken. Our farming communities have spoken. Business has spoken and the Banking sectors have spoken. But yet the ANC is hell-bent and brazenly intend to continue with the marriage with the EFF.”
Closing the debate was ANC MP Vincent Smith who told his opponents that the constitution is an amendable document.
“The constitution is not written in stone. It can be and it must be amended. And obviously honourable members, the ANC has always said and will always say expropriation of land without compensation is the way to go. We are saying as the ANC that those who oppose the access to land to our people must be remembered when we go to the elections in 2019, because it is those people that will keep us back from keeping a united and prosperous and a democratic South Africa.”
Just before voting on the report commenced, the ANC and EFF, joined by UDM and NFP MPs burst into song while awaiting the bells to be rung for voting to take place from their allocated seats. The report was approved and a resolution passed. Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli read the results of the votes.
“There are no abstentions, there is 91 NOs and there is 209 Yesses. The report is agreed to.”
The NCOP leg of the debate on the committee report will take place on Wednesday. Co-Chairperson Lewis Nzimande is expected to present the report to seek the final approval of the Council (NCOP). Voting in the NCOP will take place per-province. Each delegate representing a province will vote on whether their province supports or rejects the constitutional review committee report.