As a reaction to submissions by AfriForum made in parliament on Thursday about land reform, EFF leader Julius Malema – a long-time target of the Afrikaner rights lobby group – said it might be time for the EFF and AfriForum to have it out face to face.
“Afriforum is very provocative, maybe is time for us to engage face to face,” he wrote on Twitter.
AfriForum’s Ernst Roets yesterday responded to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise that, “in recognising the original sin of land dispossession … government would continue the land reform programme that entails expropriation of land without compensation”.
Roets claimed the narrative that whites stole the land was “the single biggest historical fallacy of our time” and the ANC was leading the country into a “communist utopia”.
Settlement, treaties and cooperation – and “most controversial, but least significant” by conquest – were reasons for white ownership of land, Roets asserted.
His claims were the verbal equivalent of poking a stick into a large wasps’ nest.
“This process is a waste of time,” the United Democratic Movement’s Mncedisi Filtane yelled at Roets, while the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu said he was determined now to amend the constitution.
The African Christian Democratic Party’s Steven Swart said he was disappointed by Roets’ submission, noting the process was about restorative justice.
“People are hardening their hearts on what you have said today,” Swart said.
The EFF’s position on land is that all private land ownership should cease, and it should all be nationalised and then administered by the state through complicated leasing deals.
AfriForum has repeatedly said it finds this proposal ridiculous and that it will destroy the economy.
The group have also taken Malema to court for hate speech in the past, and won, while their private prosecutions unit headed by Advocate Gerrie Nel intends to privately prosecute Malema on corruption charges if the National Prosecuting Authority declines to.
Malema’s comments divided Twitter on Thursday.
On Friday, the Banking Association South Africa, Business Unity South Africa, Nedbank, John Langalibalele Dube Institute and Legal Resource Centre are expected to finish the submissions stage.
Yesterday, heavyweights Indigenous First Nation Advocacy South Africa (Ifnasa), South African Human Rights Commission, Helen Suzman Foundation, National House of Traditional Leaders and AfriForum, among others, also weighed in with submissions.
Ifnasa’s Anthony Williams, representing the Khoe-San people, said his organisation was not entering the debate because it was “inconsequential”.
“Without our identity restored, engaging is futile,” he said.
He called for a removal of the 1913 constitutional deadline for land claims “because it aggressively and violently obstructs our historical claims to our ancestral land”.
On Tuesday, Professor Ruth Hall from the Poverty, Land, Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape said the debate had divided the country along racial lines.
Political analyst Ralph Mathegka said he thought Hall had a valid point.
“Political parties have been very partisan in their handling of land issue,” Mathekga said.
“They have divided the nation instead of seeking a consensus, this worsens already tense race relations and worsens trust levels within society.”
Mathekga said consultations should have been handled in good faith to listen to all instead of prescribing a policy position.
“Political parties should realise the issue is quite sensitive and there needed to be some form of restraint on political parties’ position to allow ordinary people to speak.”
According to the committee’s program, the committee will deliberate for the next few weeks while it prepares its draft report for presentation to parliament at the end of the month.
Additional reporting, Amanda Watson