As the land hearings touched down in the Western Cape, a Democratic Alliance (DA) territory, on Saturday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said President Cyril Ramaphosa made his announcement on land before citizens in the province could give their input.
The president announced on Wednesday night that section 25 of the Constitution would be amended, but this was before the public land hearings could take place in the Western Cape.
Maimane addressed a crowd outside the constitutional review committee land hearing in Goodwood, Cape Town, earlier today, telling members of the public that they had been considered only after the official announcement because the ANC did not care about the opinion of the people in the province.
“So it appears these land hearings are about ticking boxes, not consulting South Africans,” he said.
“When President Cyril Ramaphosa, as ANC president, used the SABC to make a Zuma-style late-night announcement on Wednesday, he wasn’t thinking about land or justice,” the DA leader said. “He was thinking about keeping the ANC together and neutralising the electoral threat of his new populist pals in red.”
He further speculated that the move was perhaps about “buying the EFF’s support so that they can get back control of metros like [Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality]”.
“Fellow South Africans, the ANC is being reckless and irresponsible and gambling with the livelihoods of our people.
“To protect themselves, the ANC is leading SA down a slippery slope that leads to random land grabs, random deprivation of private property, empty supermarket shelves and empty stomachs.”
Maimane said, by using state broadcaster SABC to make his announcement, the ANC leader was undermining the principle of separation of party and state. “Quite simply, he is undermining our democracy.”
“And of course, he is undermining our Constitution. He knows as well as I do we don’t need to change the Constitution to accelerate land reform, we need to implement it.”
The DA leader said the DA was “100% committed to land reform”, and that the party believed it was essential to redress the ills of the past.
“In fact, DA-run governments are miles ahead in terms of instituting real, meaningful land reform that empowers those left behind.”
Maimane is not the only to have taken issue with the announcement of the amendment to the Constitution before the land hearings could reach the Western Cape.
Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi asked: “What message was the ANC trying to send by announcing its decision to amend the Constitution just hours before the people of the Western Cape were given their chance to express an opinion? Are the people of the Western Cape not ‘our people’? Do the views of almost 6 million people, many of whom are farmers, carry no weight with the ANC?”