Even as the public hearings on land expropriation enter the final stretch – rounding up in the Western Cape this week – the amendment of section 25 of South Africa’s Constitution to “explicitly” expropriate land without compensation seems to be all but assured.
The joint constitutional review committee facilitating the hearings is scheduled to hold hearings in Oudtshoorn on Wednesday.
However, the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday that the ANC would support an amendment to a section of South Africa’s Constitution to “explicitly” expropriate land without compensation has left opposition parties convinced that either the hearings were a façade or the ruling party has caved to public pressure.
The Economic Freedom Fighter’s deputy president Floyd Shivambu ridiculed Ramaphosa’s announcement that the ANC supported the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution of South Africa, saying the announcement demonstrated a “capitulation and surrendering to the demands of the people. The people under the leadership of the EFF have spoken”.
The DA, however, felt undone by the announcement and made it clear that the party would “oppose the ANC’s support of the review of section 25 of the Constitution with everything it had in Parliament.
“We support land reform that makes South Africans owners and participants in a growing, thriving economy. [However,] we will never support a land policy that takes economic power and hands it to a corrupt government,” said DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
The DA leader said: “Successful land reform does not require amending the Constitution. It requires government action and the eradication of corruption. And it requires economic certainty.”
In light of Tuesday’s announcement by Ramaphosa, Maimane has called upon National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, to urgently convene Parliament to “deliberate ANC’s undermining” of the economy.
“Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee was established to ensure the voice of the people is heard as to whether section 25 of the Constitution ought to be amended. We need to establish whether this process has been properly followed,” said Maimane.
The announcement by Ramaphosa revealing that the ANC supported the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution meant that, should a bill be put before Parliament to amend the Constitution, the ANC together with the EFF – which had been vocal on its support of the amendment of section 25 – would have the numbers to ensure that the change was passed.
Maimane said it beggared belief that while there were still half a million submissions to be processed by the constitutional review committee, and no less than five public hearings still to be conducted in the Western Cape, the ANC had decided to jump the gun and undermine the public consultation procedure, and render the entire process moot.
Parliament had instructed the committee to determine whether a review the Constitution was necessary to make it possible for the state to expropriate land, in the public interest, without compensation.
Public hearings had already been held in eight provinces and were meant to culminate in Cape Town this weekend, following a gruelling two months of hearings that had encompassed all provinces of the country.
Maimane accused the ANC of “become fully populist” following Ramaphosa’s announcement and assured South Africans that his party would be fighting the announcement.