ANC’s Lamola says land can be legally expropriated now

Ronald Lamola. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier)

Ronald Lamola. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier)

The lawyer and ANC NEC member says certain departments and state agencies already have the power to expropriate land.

At the ANC Western Cape land summit in Stellenbosch on Friday last week, keynote speaker and ANC NEC member Ronald Lamola said there was no reason to wait for public hearings to end before expropriation without compensation could take place, News24 has reported.

The ANC’s youngest NEC member said the outcome of the party’s national summit, held two months ago, was that President Cyril Ramaphosa would appoint a task team to assist with the land reform project.

Instances of expropriation would then need to be tested on a case-by-case basis in the Constitutional Court, Lamola added.

According to the politician, government departments and entities already had the means to test the Constitution by expropriating land within existing law.

Lamola, a lawyer by trade, sits on the party’s subcommittee on economic transformation.

Clarifying his belief that expropriation of land could be carried out constitutionally, he said: “We don’t believe the Constitution is a sellout document. What is needed is that the issue of land expropriation needs to be properly spelled out. We need to provide clarity.”

“All those [state] institutions already have powers to expropriate, so they don’t need to wait for the public hearings [to end].

READ MORE: Land expropriation debate scares foreign investors

“We can exercise that power now. Those who have the power to expropriate within the bounds of the Constitution, they can proceed.”

According to Lamola, the ANC will now be attempting to finalise the passing of an expropriation bill that will properly clarify which land can be expropriated within existing law while also focusing on land restitution.

Lamola slammed what he saw as the bureaucratic nature of the registration and transfer process for land claims, and stated he believed various departments and state agencies already had the power to expropriate land.

“The departments of human settlements, basic education, public works – they have expropriating powers, as well as various state agencies like [roads agency] Sanral and Eskom,” said Lamola while briefing journalists outside the Western Cape event.

“The challenge has been the use of market-related prices, which is not what the Constitution demands when you want to expropriate.”

READ MORE: You touch the land, you touch the deadly snake, land hearings told

Lamola added Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize would also hold a summit to inform municipalities and mayors that they could expropriate land based on the current provisions.

Lamola also disputed the commonly held view that the ANC wanted all land transferred to the state, stating the party instead preferred joint ownership.

“There must still be title deeds, to secure private deeds. Our policy is a mixture of ownership.

“The fact is the economy of the country is a mixed economy. In a mixed economy, you cannot have all the land of the country owned by the state,” he said.

According to another speaker at the summit, WA Mgodi, who served on the land reform commission from 1998 to 2003, there is already a precedent for the expropriation of public land legally seen to be a “commonage”.

Mgodi noted that partial tracts of a golf course in Durbanville, Cape Town, had been used to build roughly 15 houses.

Most golf courses are owned by the municipality, and so approval from the City was given, and a deal was struck, allowing the homes to be built.

According to Mgodi, commonages by definition already belong to the state, and therefore expropriation can be carried out lawfully.

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