Former president Thabo Mbeki has questioned the ANC’s motive for resolving to expropriate land without compensation, warning that the party might be deviating from its values of non-racialism.
Mbeki has also accused the ANC of taking leadership from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on the land issue and structuring its approach according to principles that are not inherent to the party.
The comments were made in a leaked 30-page memorandum intended for internal use by the Thabo Mbeki foundation.
In the document Mbeki acknowledges the need to expropriate land for public use and the need to redress the injustices of the past.
However, in numerous references to the Freedom Charter which states: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”, Mbeki cautions the ANC against using race as the motivating factor behind wanting to expropriating land without compensation.
“The question is what should be done to acquire the required land without communicating a wrong principle that such land acquisition is being conducted because sections of our population must surrender land they own to others who are allegedly properly South African?” Mbeki asks in the document.
Questioning further the ANC’s apparent deviation from the commitment to non-racialism, Mbeki accuses the party of wrongfully taking leadership from the EFF on land redistribution.
This year the EFF scored a victory in Parliament when it sponsored a motion to amend section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation, a motion that was supported by the ANC.
Since then the EFF has claimed the ANC’s current talk of expropriating land without compensation as being a consequence of its own efforts and an indication that the EFF is feeling pressure from the red berets.
Mbeki lambasts the ANC for being unable to answer vital questions from opposition parties when asked about its decision to expropriate land without compensation and outsourcing this duty of providing clarity to the EFF.
In particular Mbeki refers to the ANC’s inability to engage Congress of the People (COPE) Mosiuoa Lekota when he questioned what the party meant by wanting to return land to “our people”.
“He [Lekota] asked — given that the ANC had resolved to expropriate land and transfer it to those the ANC described as ‘our people’ — who in this equation were not ‘our people’ in terms of long established ANC policy?” Mbeki says. “The truth is that the ANC leadership has not answered this very legitimate question, except through heckling Lekota to silence him,” he adds.
Mbeki accuses the ANC of allowing the EFF to answer this question for it and therefore taking on the EFF’s “vulgar and gross misrepresentation of the historic positions of the ANC”.
In particular he says the EFF defines “our people” as “blacks in general and Africans in particular”, which he believes relays the message that white people are the other from whom land should be stripped. This position, Mbeki believes, is in stark contrast to the ANC’s values of non-racialism.
Mbeki has also questioned the current furore over expropriation without compensation when the constitution in its current form already allows for such action in some circumstances.
“Accordingly we strongly assert that all the controversy about the principle and practice of land expropriation without compensation has been misplaced because even our Constitution allows for this to happen and has authorised the approval of legislation which would make this possible through approved Statutes,” he states.
Mbeki has called on ANC leaders to conduct an internal review to have the organisation reflect on a number of questions including what those who are “land-hungry” want to use land for, how it will increase agricultural production, how much land will be needed for urban purposes and how many people actually want to use land for agricultural purposes.