The chairperson of the ad hoc committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution, Mathole Motshekga, finds the proposition that the committee could fail to come up with an amendment “too ghastly to contemplate”.
However, he is satisfied there is “political will” from the parties on the committee to find a “harmonious solution”.
The committee met on Friday, and Motshekga opened with the following words: “The collapse of this process would be too ghastly to contemplate because it would throw this country into a crisis far worse than the Zimbabwean crisis.”
He said land invasions are already increasing at an “alarming rate”.
The committee was deadlocked in its deliberations on the form of the amendment ahead of the previous deadline of 31 May. As such, it necessitated an extension to 31 August, which the National Assembly granted last week.
Even though the National Assembly is in recess, the committee met on Friday to continue its deliberations.
The EFF didn’t participate in Friday’s meeting.
The ANC doesn’t have enough seats to pass a constitutional amendment on its own.
The impasse is, to a large extent, due to divergent views on state custodianship.
The EFF proposes that all land should be held in custodianship by the state. The ANC proposes a mixed system, which includes private ownership and state custodianship. The DA opposes state custodianship and a constitutional amendment.
While the ANC and DA didn’t reach a consensus on any issues on Friday, Motshekga was satisfied that continuing bilateral meetings between parties could yield results.
ANC MP Cyril Xaba suggested the committee sets a deadline to reach an agreement.
“If that date comes and we still haven’t made progress, we must call it quits and report to Parliament that we couldn’t find each other,” he said.
“That would be the saddest day in the life of this country,” responded Motshekga. “I think we shouldn’t even entertain calling it quits because this country would go up in flames.”
He said Friday’s meeting signalled to him that there was a possibility of finding a solution among parties.
Bilateral meetings between parties will continue, and the committee will meet next Friday.