Lekota joins forces with AfriForum to ‘protect property rights’

Congress of the people (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota will join AfriForum in asking other countries to put pressure on South Africa not to amend the Constitution.

Lekota and AfriForum on Monday announced that they would join forces to ask the South African public and the international community to apply pressure on the ANC and Parliament to prevent the “illegal” amendment of the Constitution.

This announcement seemingly took Lekota’s party by surprise, as Lekota in an “unfortunate oversight” omitted to put it on the party’s congress executive committee’s (CEC) meeting agenda. The party also wants to discuss the proposed campaign to visit foreign embassies “before deciding whether it would favour being part of such an activity or not”.

“The CEC indicated that the matter was not a product of its meeting and that it was not aware of the media conference or statement issued,” reads a statement from Cope spokesperson Glacier Nkhwashu.

“The general secretary of the party, Ms Lyndall Shope-Mafole received an explanation from president Lekota to the effect that the matter had been in planning for some time and the omission to place it on the agenda of the CEC was an unfortunate oversight that happened as a result of the tight schedule, for which he asked for an apology (sic).

“The CEC expressed its disquiet but accepted the apology tendered to it by president Lekota for the unfortunate oversight referred to above and calls on all those who were aggrieved to do the same.”

Lekota and AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel on Monday held a joint conference in Pretoria, where they alleged that Parliament was trying to amend the Constitution without a legitimate mandate from voters. They will also join forces to protect the Constitution, property rights, the economy and the 1994-settlement.

According to a statement from AfriForum, this decision “to defend the Constitution, property rights and the 1994 settlement” came after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on July 31 that the ANC had decided to amend section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.

According to Lekota, Ramaphosa violated his oath of office as well as section 83(b) of the Constitution, which stipulates that the president of South Africa must uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.

Lekota alleges that the amendment of the Constitution “is the sole right of the South African voters and not of the ANC, Ramaphosa, Parliament or any party”.

In fact, section 44 of the Constitution states the National Assembly – one of the houses of Parliament – has the power to amend the Constitution. Section 74 of the Constitution further outlines the process to be followed to amend the Constitution. Nowhere in this section is the “sole right” conferred to “the voters”, he said.

The Constitution has been amended 17 times since its adoption in 1996.

Lekota furthermore said the ANC’s resolution at its conference in December does not constitute a legitimate mandate from South African voters.

‘ANC blatantly violating 1994 settlement’

“Parliament’s legitimacy is also in question after they failed to hold Zuma accountable, therefore their decision to consider the possible amendment of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation is furthermore not legitimate,” reads the statement.

“President Ramaphosa has no legitimate mandate from South African voters to call for such an amendment. Similarly, the land hearings do not constitute a legitimate mandate from South African voters as not all South African voters could participate in these hearings.”

Kriel said the Constitution and the protection of property rights contained therein were the results of an early 1990s negotiated settlement between various parties, of which the ANC and the then National Party were the main role players.

“Ramaphosa and the ANC’s decision to amend the Constitution unfortunately shows that the ANC is blatantly violating the 1994 settlement. As international pressure played a part in convincing the various parties to enter into the 1994 settlement, the international community now also has a responsibility to help see to it that the ANC sticks to the agreement,” said Kriel.

Lekota and AfriForum view their cooperation “as a positive example of how citizens from different backgrounds and who may sometimes have different viewpoints can in fact cooperate successfully through mutual recognition and respect and by focusing on matters of a shared interest”, according to the AfriForum statement. — News24

Jan Gerber
Jan Gerber
Journalist & photographer. Parliamentary reporter for News24
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