In all the political dust being thrown up at the moment, never mind the stalling of the economy, it would have been easy to miss one of the most worrying observations yet about the land problem.
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe didn’t mince his words when addressing a real estate industry summit: the ANC government, he said, lacked the political will to properly address the land issue and, particularly, land restitution.
That’s quite a shocking indictment from one of the ANC’s elders and one of the voices of rationality and balance within the organisation.
Motlanthe is clearly unhappy that the time spent by him and a panel of experts on land – one of the seminal assessments of the issue – was, effectively, wasted, because the report was ignored.
He said that in 2017, a summary report on land reform had been submitted to parliament with a “simple recommendation” which could have been implemented in a month or two at no cost … but MPs did not even make an attempt to read it.
The panel’s idea was that a certain standard be set when assessing land to be acquired. Included was its history – how much was paid for it and when, and the improvements made – and its current usage, which would enable a fair monetary value to be calculated.
Parliament didn’t listen and decided to rely on Section 25 of the constitution, which allows for expropriation of land without compensation … but the mechanisms for achieving the populist outcome of expropriation with compensation are far from settled.
Motlanthe was firm in stating he hopes that expropriation without compensation “won’t happen in a hundreds years’ time”… but that does not fill the policy vacuum created by the ANC.
And into that vacuum have rushed the populists like the Economic Freedom Fighters, which threatens race war over land. Another ANC disaster …
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