DA on land reform: ‘Property rights must be protected’

The Democratic Alliance has strongly opposed efforts to expropriate land without compensation saying it is a bid to sow racial divisions and endangers property rights in South Africa.

On Monday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane outlined his party’s policy on land reform at a press conference in Johannesburg after the Economic Freedom Fighters and the ANC earlier voted to begin a process in Parliament to amend the Constitution so that land can be expropriated without compensation.

The DA has emerged as a major political party that is against the motion, which was supported by the EFF and the ANC.

“I want to say that there is n nice way of expropriating land, there is no nice way of taking away land from someone. It is not our business to create panic in South Africa,” Maimane said on Monday.

The DA leader said that the Constitution is not an impediment to land reform in the country, and he criticised the EFF’s proposal to make land in the country state-owned.

“If you sit with the Freedom Charter, it does not say the state must own the land, it states that the people shall own the land,” Maimane said.

The DA, Maimane said, supports individuals’ right to own land, but that it should not be state-owned. He warned that the EFF’s determination to expropriate land without compensation would cost property owners their land.

“Property rights are the bedrock of development and economic growth. Expropriation without compensation is state sanctioned theft, which is inimical to economic growth and development,” Maimane said.

He also criticised the ANC for not being clear on whether it supports the EFF’s model of state ownership and if it has a model of it own to propose. Both parties, he said, have used racist remarks to draw support for their visions of land reform.

“We reject the hate-filled racist undertones employed by the EFF and the ANC in this debate, which seeks to divide the country according to race for narrow political ends, and which seeks to de-legitimise those who disagree,” Maimane said.

At the weekend, the DA was criticised after an SMS sent by party structures accused the ANC and the EFF of stealing land from homeowners. The SMS, which was sent at a time when voter registration was taking place, encouraged voters to cast their ballot for the DA to protect landowners. 

Initially a City Press story had alleged that the party had distanced itself from the message, but later on Sunday afternoon, the party’s communication director Mabine Seabe told the Mail & Guardian that the national structures of the party stand behind the SMS. 

Seabe said that it was important that citizens knew the policy options with regards to land in order to choose who to vote for in the 2019 general elections.

The SMS read: “ANC & EFF working together to take all private land and homes. You can only stop this if you’re registered correctly to vote! Check now.”

With the EFF’s motion passed, the Constitution Review Committee at Parliament will now be tasked with discussing land reform legislation and presenting feedback to the National Assembly by August 30. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

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