The African National Congress (ANC) said today that it had affirmed traditional leaders that amending section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation would not “temper [sic] with the authority of the traditional leadership over the land of their ancestors”.
The ANC said in a statement this affirmation to traditional leaders was made during a meeting between the party’s officials and the leadership of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) on Monday.
“We affirmed our view that the Kings and Chiefs are rightful custodians of communal land for and on behalf of the people. The ANC will never be part of any attempt that seeks to temper [sic] with the authority of the traditional leadership over the land of their ancestors,” the ANC said.
The governing party said the two organisations agreed to maintain close relations and continue to exchange dialogue for the purpose of finding solutions to effectively lead the country’s citizenry.
“We looked at the improving working relations between us and on working to resolve through legislation the issues of the role and position of traditional leadership in all legislative spheres,” the party said.
The two organisations agreed to establish a task team that will be led jointly by the deputy presidents of the ANC and Contralesa which will “attend to the issues that affect the welfare and well-being of traditional leaders and their traditional communities throughout the length and breadth of the country”.
Contralesa previously was of the view that expropriating land under the charge of traditional leaders would amount to “neo-colonialism”.
However, the organisation later announced that it was now backing the Economic Freedom Fighters’ on expropriation without compensation on condition that the land that would be expropriated is “87 percent stolen land” owned by white people rather than the land under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe – who chaired the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change which proposed that the Ingonyama Trust which administers land on behalf of Zulu King Zwelithini should be disbanded or its powers should be significantly amended – called traditional leaders “village tin-pot dictators” during an ANC land summit.
Contralesa leadership expressed its dismay and displeasure at Motlanthe’s utterances “and felt those insinuations were unfortunate and that going forward, issues around traditional leadership and their traditional communities must be handled with the necessary sensitivity and respect that they deserve,” the ANC said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the governing party has welcomed the withdrawal of the Expropriation Bill by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works today.
The Committee withdrew the Bill due to the parliamentary process of reviewing Section 25 of the Constitution which is currently under way.
“As the ANC, we reiterate our commitment to pursue the expropriation of land without compensation as one of the measures to ensure that land reform is implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid,” the party said in a statement.