Juju and Lekota tiff mars Limpopo land hearings

Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosioua Lekota was forced to move from his front seat at the parliamentary public hearings into land expropriation constitutional after a tiff with Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.

The pair were seated next to one another at the packed-to-the-rafters Marble Hall town hall when Malema erupted in rage after the lunch break.

Malema lost his cool and appeared to be chastising Lekota while members of the public were making oral submissions.

Proceedings were brought to a halt as security intervened between the two MPs.

Lekota hastily moved to a seat at the back. It is not clear what sparked the eruption but those within earshot claimed Lekota had accused Malema of orchestrating ‘the whole thing’, apparently in reference to the hardline sentiments expressed by EFF supporters in attendance.

Earlier in the day, before proceedings had gotten under way, EFF and Democratic Alliance supporters were embroiled in a stand-off which outside the hall but this did not escalate into anything explosive.

It was a day of high drama in which scores of people expressed support for the amendment of section 25 (3) of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

Marble Hall, some 180km from Limpopo’s capital Polokwane, is an agricultural town specialising in cotton, citrus fruit, grapes and tobacco.

The majority of landowners and farmers are white Afrikaners.

However the majority of those present were mainly black youth and adults, who expressed anger over racial discrimination, human rights abuses on farms and lack of land ownership, which they said stifles economic freedom.

It appeared also that many of those who made oral submissions did not understand the purpose of the gathering, using the platform to raise issues ranging from poor service delivery, labour issues and one even asking the gathering to simply put its trust in god and forget about Constitutional changes.

A large crowd of those who attended did not make it into the hall and were instead accomodated in a tent near the hall. At the close of proceedings EFF supporters rushed to the stage to take pictures and videos of Malema, who responded with a smile and shook hands with some among the boisterous crowd.

The hearings move to Mokopane tomorrow.

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Lucas Ledwaba
Lucas Ledwaba
Journalist and author of Broke & Broken - The Shameful Legacy of Gold Mining in South Africa.

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