Parliament’s adoption of the land expropriation motion has been described as a way to “achieve the founding principles of the liberation in South Africa” by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), while those opposing this decision say the rights of individuals are being infringed upon.
The EFF tabled the motion, led by leader Julius Malema, to establish an ad hoc committee to review and amend Section 25 of the Constitution once it has heard submissions from policymakers, academics, civil society and the public.
Of the 324 MPs sitting in the National Assembly – 241 MPs voted in favour of the motion, while 83 voted against it.
The motion was passed with the support of the ANC, Inkatha Freedom Party, National Freedom Party, United Democratic Movement, Agang, African Independent Congress and African People’s Convention.
The ANC resolved to address the issue of land expropriation without compensation during its 54th national elective conference in December 2017 so the party’s support of the EFF’s motion was expected.
Former minister of rural development and land reform, Gugile Nkwinti, said: “There’s no doubt about it; land shall be expropriated without compensation. Of course, government should own land because it is the government of the people. It’s the government who is not for the people who should never own land.”
The Democratic Alliance, however, opposed the motion and, after it was adopted, explained why the party voted against it.
“We want to make it unequivocally clear that the DA is completely committed to redressing the history of violent land dispossession in South Africa,” the party said in a statement.
“The current approach by the ANC government sees the state as ‘benevolent’ custodians of all land, with individual black farmers denied the opportunity to really own land. This, we argue, is not real land reform.
“By arguing for expropriation without compensation, the ANC has been gifted the perfect scapegoat to explain away its own failure. Expropriation without compensation would severely undermine the national economy, only hurting poor black people even further. We therefore cannot support such an approach.”
The Banking Association of SA (BASA) is also opposed to expropriation without compensation and says banks have lent out about R180-billion to the agriculture sector based on land as collateral and that if this security is threatened then the entire financial system would be put at risk.
Managing director of BASA Cas Coovadia says that although banks want to promote land reform by providing finance and helping beneficiaries get the skills and equipment they need, the issue of land must be addressed differently.
“The whole area of land reform is a legitimate issue. The bottom line is people were deprived of their land and land is both an emotive and an economic issue and we’ve got to do it properly… If we threaten that security then there are serious systemic problems for the industry,” Coovadia said.
Agri South Africa (AgriSA) has also come out in opposition of the decision in a statement. AgriSA expressed the view that “expropriation without compensation may be seen as a viable option to expedite land reform and equitable access to land; but without effective post-settlement support, it will plunge the country into food insecurity.”