/ 27 February 2018

DA slams land expropriation without compensation proposal

Tuesday's debate in Parliament saw lines being drawn around the issue of land expropriation without compensation
Tuesday's debate in Parliament saw lines being drawn around the issue of land expropriation without compensation

The Democratic Alliance has shunned a motion by the Economic Freedom Fighters that proposes Parliament should begin the process of legislating land expropriation without compensation, saying it “undermines” property rights in South Africa.

DA MP Thandeka Mbabama was heckled by EFF and the ANC MPs after she argued against the land reform draft resolution that was tabled in Parliament by the EFF.

Mbabama was responding to the EFF’s proposal in a debate of the motion inside the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“Fellow countrymen, land expropriation without compensation cannot be the solution,” she said.

She acknowledged that black people were “brutally taken from their land” and that the “wounds still run deep”, but said that changing Section 25 of the Constitution would harm South Africa instead of improving the situation of landless people.

Section 25 of the Constitution focuses on property rights in the country, and states that government can only expropriate land if it provides compensation. Mbabama said that should this section of the Constitution be amended, then property rights would be “undermined”.

She also criticised the ANC – who sat to her right, taunting her arguments – for agreeing to land expropriation without compensation, saying the party was attempting to draw attention away from its own errors.

“Only a few months ago members of the right side of the house fully agreed with [our position] … today they have backtracked. What has changed?” she said.

She argued that Section 25 is not hindering land reform in South Africa, but the debate on expropriation without compensation was instead a “way to divert attention from the failures of the ANC in South Africa”.

Mbabama also said that DA initiatives in the Western Cape, where she claims the DA had delivered close to 83 000 title deeds to black farmers since 2009, had provided “dignity” to black farmers.

“Surely this is true economic freedom,” she said, as the EFF jeered her.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald also slammed the EFF’s proposal, asking: “What do you want with the land?”

Groenewald then went on seemingly to warn: “If you continue with this course, there will be unforeseen consequences …”

So far, the Inkatha Freedom Front and the National Freedom Party have agreed that land should be expropriated without compensation. NFP MP Shaik Emam said that the proposal should be implemented with urgency, saying: “If you buy stolen goods, you are a criminal.”

“What is the delay? Let’s go out there and expropriate,” Emam said.

He went on to refer to fire censure at the DA for their stance on the debate.

“I’m not surprised by my colleagues on the left here, because in a very short time they went from being oppressed to being the oppressors,” he said.

ANC MP Gugile Nkwinti, meanwhile, said that the ruling party would “unequivocally” support the motion, but disagreed with the EFF’s model to implement land expropriation without compensation.

“There’s no doubt about it, land will be expropriated without compensation. The process will be done in a way that improves agriculture and food security,” he said.

The EFF has proposed that Parliament establish an ad hoc committee which will then review and amend section 25 of the Constitution after hearing submissions from members of the public, policy expert, academics and civil society.

EFF leader Julius Malema opened the debate inside the House on Tuesday, delivering a history of how black South Africans were robbed of their land by colonialists such as Jan van Riebeeck.

“The time for reconciliation is over, now is the time for justice. If the grandchildren of Jan van Riebeeck have not understood that we need our land back then they have failed to receive the gift of humanity,” he said.