President Jacob Zuma has called on “black parties” in Parliament to unite in pursuit of a two-thirds majority required to make changes to the Constitution to make provision for land expropriation without compensation.
Zuma’s call came just three days after the ANC in Parliament shot down an offer by the Economic Freedom Fighters for its 6% to vote with the ANC to effect such a change to the Constitution.
Zuma was addressing traditional leaders, in the annual opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament this morning.
He said land was at the heart of the radical economic transformation and the fact was “land hunger is real”.
Zuma said to attain the goal of radical transformation in relation to land reform, a pre-colonial land audit of land use and occupation patterns should be undertaken.
Speaking off the cuff, Zuma echoed the words of Julius Malema saying: “Once the audit has been completed, a single law should be developed to address issue of land restitution without compensation. The necessary constitutional amendments would then be undertaken to effect this process. That’s why we need to accept the reality that those who are in Parliament where laws are made, particularly the black parties, should unite because we need a two-thirds majority to effect changes in the Constitution.”
He received loud applause from traditional leaders on this statement.
“We can’t fight over nothing and not deal with the real issues when we are where laws are made and waste time instead of creating the legal institutions to address the problems we have of inequality, poverty and unemployment,” added Zuma.
He also announced that the government was looking at a possible redesign and establishment of another Chapter Nine institution; a land claims commission that will have powers to help “in this [land] historical injustice”. This will also require a constitutional amendment.
“All of this will require unity and common purpose and action in the county to ensure redress and meaningful reconciliation; not artificial reconciliation.
“Naturally,” continued Zuma off-script, “government and the governing party would want to ensure that this is an orderly process. We do not support chaos and illegal land grabs. Actions must be informed by the Constitution and the laws of the land.
“That is why I am pleading that particularly, the parties that represent the previously disadvantaged people must unite on these matters so that we have sufficient majority in Parliament, legally to take these decisions. This decision must be taken and must be taken democratically and we must use our majority to correct wrongs in this country within the law and within the constitution,” he said.
On Tuesday, EFF leader Julius Malema told Parliament that the EFF motion sought to “unite black people in South Africa”.
“We say as black people we need to unite and amend the constitution and expropriate land without compensation. There is no white person who will understand that clarion call because they don’t know the pain of being landless…”
Zuma also sought to assure social grant recipients that they will receive their grants after March 31 despite the state’s failure to appoint a grant distributor beyond that date.
He said he had confidence that social development and finance ministers Bathabile Dlamini and Pravin Gordhan would ensure the grants were paid from April 1 onwards.
Zuma’s speech will be debated on March 30.