Political leaders at a debate in Durban on Friday night agreed that land reform was essential but differed on how it should be achieved and even on whether it could be achieved.
A round table discussion at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban hosted by the Dr John Langalibalele Dube Institute saw one party representative urging blacks to “take back land that they had lost to whites” while others called for new negotiations on constitutional provisions regarding land.
Another called for land to be nationalised, and yet another said the constitution was not the problem and laid the blame on poor implementation of land reform policies.
National convener of Black First, Land First Andile Mngxitama urged blacks simply to take land ahead of the election and ignore the promises of politicians.
“All of us [blacks] are landless in our own country. We must exclude white people. There is only one agenda,” he said.
But Inkatha Freedom Party deputy secretary Professor Christian Msimang said land reform had to be undertaken within the confines of the law.
He said it was possibly time for the country to have a second Convention for a Democratic SA (Codesa) that should focus on resolving the country’s burning land issue.
“Whatever is done should respect the rule of law,” Msimang said.
The United Democratic Movement’s Mncedisi Filtane agreed that a new Codesa-style conference was necessary but said it should reflect the wishes of the people rather than political parties.
Both the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Marshall Dlamini and the Azanian People’s Organisation’s Itumelang Mosala said land should be expropriated, nationalised, and owned by the state.
Dlamini accused the governing ANC of being “cowards and afraid to take the necessary step to expropriating all land”.
“The current government is not courageous. They are scared of white people,” he said.
ANC MPs agreed with their EFF counterparts in the corridors of parliament but backed down in voting.
“The state must be the custodian of the land. He who wants to use the land will [if the EFF was in government] have to apply to the state for a licence to use the land,” said Dlamini.
However, Deputy Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo rejected assertions that the ANC was not dealing with the land issue.
She pointed to the recently passed Expropriation Bill, saying government had recognised that the “willing buyer-willing seller” concept had not been successful. The Constitution could be amended if circumstances warranted it.
The DA’s Thomas Walters said the DA did not believe the constitution needed to be amended for land reform. The bigger issue was land reform and the failure of the government to properly implement its reform policies.
“The constitution is not the obstacle. Nothing stops the government from instituting land reform.”
He said the DA believed in individuals owning their own property and having title deeds to their land. The ANC government had already misspent R80 billion on land reform.
– African News Agency (ANA)