Cosatu not moved by 16 cents drop in rand over land issue

Cosatu is unphased by the drop in the rand value
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A 16 cent drop in the value of the rand is a small price to pay. That is Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) response to the sharp decline of the rand following President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s announcement that the African National Congress (ANC) will amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The trade union federation spoke on the sidelines of a discussion on land led by students of the University of the Western Cape and the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies.

Students at the University of the Western Cape say it is no longer enough for universities to merely preach without practice.

They have now challenged the University of the Western Cape and other institutions of higher learning to take the baton and get their hands dirty in the debate around the expropriation of land without compensation. It is a challenge that excites Professor Ruth Hall, one of the country’s foremost researchers on land issues.

“I’m hearing a very pointed challenge that the students are saying to us as academics, ‘what are you going to do?’ I think that we need to hear that and listen to it.”

Meanwhile, Cosatu, speaking on the sidelines of the student debate, has labelled the 16 cents decline in rand value as a form of blackmail from imperialist forces.

“The fact that the rand dropped by 16 cents is a small price to pay, because if we don’t deal with the land question, if we don’t expropriate without compensation the country will go up in flames and none of us will have anything left. So, it’s an issue that must be dealt with and must be attended to now,” Cosatu Western Cape Secretary Tony Ehrenreich.

Critics of the ANC’s decision say the party may struggle as it will require 75% rather than 66% of MPs to change the constitution.

“If, however, you want to tinker with the basic tenets of the rule of law, one of which is respect for the property rights of everybody then you need to have a 75% majority not just a two-thirds,”  says Accountability Now Director Paul Hoffman.

Prof Hall disagrees.

“My view is that at the present time, what we’re looking at is the ANC and the president saying we will change the constitution, but in a way that would simply clarify that there can be expropriation under certain circumstances and not that it would be across the board.”

The debate comes just two days before Capetonians will have their say before the Constitutional Review Committee.

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