The Economic Freedom Fighters’ campaign for land expropriation without compensation has gained unwavering support from the country’s traditional leaders, who officially threw their weight behind the party on Thursday.
A two-part press conference at the EFF’s Braamfontein headquarters began with a joint statement by the party and the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa).
The secretary-general of Contralesa, Zolani Mkiva opened the session, and explained how the two organisations held a meeting in June over issues surrounding land reform, rural development and the 2019 elections, and agreed on matters regarding these issues.
“Contralesa and the EFF are in full agreement that section 25 of the Constitution should be amended,to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation,” he said.
“Our interest is in the land that was taken from us. The land issue is critical to us. Wealth is in the land. Land is the most important thing to us that represents freedom,” he added.
Mkiva said that when it comes to the issue of land, the main focus should be on the stolen land.
“We want to be clear that we want the focus of the discussion about expropriation to be on the 87% of stolen land.”
According to Mkiva, the EFF was a party that they could not sit back and ignore.
“This is a party that is calling the shots in certain instances. We could not sit back and not engage them even if we wanted to,” Mkiva said.
The organisation also stressed how the EFF was a party that had never insulted them, called them names or asked for traditional leaders to be removed and therefore they would continue to engage with the party.
This came after former president Kgalema Motlanthe said “traditional leaders act like village tin-pot dictators” when it comes to the land question during the ANC’s land summit in Boksburg earlier this year.
“Some traditional leaders support the ANC, but the majority of them are acting as village tinpot dictators to the people there,” he said.
Deputy President David Mabuza also took part in this conversation and said traditional leaders were merely custodians of the land and should stop exploiting customary rights for unscrupulous ends.
On Thursday, Contralesa and the EFF stressed that the state should be the overall custodian of all South African land, however Mkiva said that the land that was under the custodianship of traditional leaders should remain as such.
There had been resistance from traditional leaders to transfer land to the state for redistribution and the spotlight was mainly on the Ingonyama Trust, which was led by King of the Zulu nation, Goodwill Zwelithini, who vowed to fight to protect the land controlled by the trust.
READ: Mondli Makhanya: King Zwelithini stokes fires of Zulu nationalism
The president of the EFF said that his organisation had never called for the termination of traditional leadership in relation to the land.
“We have said to traditional leaders, including the Zulu king; let’s make contributions to the process, and the traditional leaders are making contributions,” he said.
Malema explained that no food security would be disrupted by the process of land expropriation.
“Who are we to go into a farm that is producing food for us and say, no we are seizing operations, we are taking over, that will not happen,” he said.
“We want the land to be democratised, the ownership of the land in South Africa must be reflective of the demographics in South Africa. You have a hundred people producing food for millions of people, as a result, they manipulate food prices,” added Malema.
Contralesa said that it will hold a land summit with the EFF within the next six months or so.