ANC veteran Pallo Jordan believes former president Thabo Mbeki’s 30-page paper on land expropriation does not enrich the land discourse, adding that it is “a falsification” of the ruling party’s principles.
During Karima Brown’s show on Radio 702, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand Adam Habib and Jordan looked at whether the party had deviated from its traditional values, as Mbeki’s memorandum suggested.
Mbeki’s paper was strident in its criticism of the party, saying that the ANC was responding to political pressure and in the process, abandoning its historical values with regards to non-racialism by framing the debate on land along racial lines.
The debate hinged on two points: whether Mbeki’s paper had accurately represented the party and whether land expropriation without compensation was a deviation from the party’s principles.
One of the key discussions around the land debate is about the expropriation of 72% of privately owned land that is in the hands of the white minority, which makes up 12% of the population.
According to Jordan, “No one in the ANC is suggesting that whites should be discriminated against in the resolution of the land question.”
He explained that last week President Cyril Ramaphosa had set up a body of advisers on the issue of land expropriation without compensation which includes members of big business, agri-business, lawyers, academics.
“The ANC is not approaching the land question the way in which this pamphlet is suggesting,” Jordan continued.
Habib, however, believes that the land question was motivated by political pressure: “Let’s be blunt, the ANC has been feeling the pressure and they want to take the land question out of the 2019 elections. They made a pragmatic concession and passed it.”
“Ironically, even if you spoke to the leadership of the ANC, Habib added, “they don’t believe the constitution as it currently stands is an impediment to expropriation as it currently stands. They made a pragmatic concession in response to the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighter).”
According to Habib, because the party recognised that it was conceding to its opposition, it “tried to compromise for it with two pragmatic ways: One was the clause that expropriation must not undermine food security and the addressing of poverty and inequality.”
“The second thing the ANC did was set up this committee [Parliament’s constitutional review committee on the proposed amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution] out of this you could get a pragmatic outcome that is negotiated from this regard.”
Jordan agreed that the discourse on the land question does pose a threat to non-racialism, but maintained that it was not how the ANC was conducting the debate. He added that people should not conflate what EFF Julius Malema says with regards to the land debate with ANC debate and discussion.
With regards to whether expropriation of land without compensation forms a part of the ANC’s policy, Jordan said: “If you concede that the Constitution makes provisions for that, there is no departure from anything [like ANC policy].”
“Secondly, if you look at the ANC position, the ANC at one point anticipated land reform in seizure of assets from robber barons and big companies — there is no mention of compensation there,” Jordan added, referring to the statement adopted by the ANC at the Morogoro Conference, April-May 1969.
“There is discourse in the ANC and debate in the ANC about the land question. If people claim to be a part of the movement, why are they not participating in the debate,” added Jordan, slamming Mbeki for not being involved in the debate within the party, but choosing to critique it from the outside.
“I think this pamphlet is rather unfortunate because it has not enriched discourse on the matter at all. Perhaps it distances the Thabo Mbeki Foundation from the incumbent leadership of the ANC and even dares to suggest that the incumbent leadership of the ANC has adopted a PAC position or at best an EFF position.”
Listen to the full debate: