Land expropriation’s irreconcilable political differences harming progress, say analysts


With land expropriation without compensation expected to feature prominently in the run-up to the local government polls as part of the campaigning arsenal, the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are far apart on the issue.

Against the background of the parliamentary ad hoc committee this week adopting the report on the constitution 18th Amendment Bill, which will see the expropriation of land without compensation for the purpose of land reform embedded in the constitution, political analysts said the EFF’s vote against supporting the ANC and other smaller opposition parties indicated an irreconcilable chasm.

University of South Africa political science professor Dirk Kotze said the political gulf between the ANC and EFF on and, was “philosophical and ideological”.

“The ANC wants to have a whole range of options available in terms of land expropriation and other forms of reform.

“Proposed ANC options in terms of land ownership include private, communal and state ownership – currently the status quo.

“On the other hand, the EFF wants all land that has been acquired by the state through expropriation to remain state land under the custodianship of the state.

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“This means the state can rent out land to whoever that qualifies for it, without owning it.

“Another major distinction between the ANC and the EFF is that the ANC wants a whole range of compensation, from zero to a compensation of a substantial nature, depending on the factors listed in section 25 of the constitution.

“The EFF wants a standard approach without any compensation – something cutting across colour.

“None of the two want to make any compromises, with the EFF claiming that expropriation of land without compensation was their idea.

“They [EFF] have now found themselves boxed in a parliamentary process.”

He said President Cyril Ramaphosa had adopted a cautious position on land expropriation without compensation, due to its impact on foreign direct investment in SA.

“The EFF is more concerned about public opinion within South Africa than the impact on foreign direct investment, without there being the likelihood of common ground being reached.

Independent political analyst Dr Ralph Mathekga concurred: “The ANC wants to moderate the constitutional amendment on land expropriation, while the EFF wants major changes all the way. As a power dynamic, the ANC seems to have lost its appetite in the EFF version.”

Dr Mosibudi Mangena, black consciousness stalwart and author of the book We Can Fix Ourselves: Building a better South Africa through Black Consciousness, said: “It is just political sparring between the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters.

“As I point out in my just-published book, there is no serious attempt to redistribute land in South Africa.”

University of Johannesburg politics professor Siphamandla Zondi said the consensus reached in 2018 between the ANC, EFF and other smaller political parties, when parliament explored land expropriation without compensation, seemed to have “come apart”.

Said Zondi: “This could bedevil the work done. The ANC’s decision – through its majority vote – may not be adequate to effect this change, because white parties are unlikely to join it.

“The ANC has decided that the amendment be reserved for land that is used for agriculture business or settlement – but that which is unoccupied, unsafe and such like.

“This compromise designed to safeguard the current economic relations falls short of the idea of restitution of land people need for livelihoods – a return to their ancestral land.

“This gives the EFF material to use to argue that the ANC does not want the transfer of productive land to descendants of its dispossessed owners.

“It is a relief for big private property owners that are generally white, who are fearing losing land.

“How does the compromise lead to the release of land needed to build human settlements?

“Therefore, it seems that the land issue will remain unresolved – a lingering haunt over our stability and future.”

Source: citizen