Congress of the People (Cope) leadership publicly rebuked party president Mosiuoa Lekota yesterday for holding a joint media briefing and announcing a campaign with AfriForum without their knowledge.
Lekota and AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel issued a joint statement announcing a campaign to lobby foreign embassies for international pressure to be put on the ANC and government not to amend the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.
They also stated they intended to ask foreign ambassadors to tell the ANC and parliament not to act without a legal mandate from South African voters.
They described the ANC’s plan to amend the Constitution as an “illegitimate bid”.
But the Cope congress executive committee (CEC) said yesterday Lekota had not got a mandate from the committee to take this stance and that the committee had not even discussed the matter.
The Cope CEC said that as the leadership of the party they had been unaware of the media briefing. Although they supported some of the issues raised in Lekota’s statement, they disagreed with the campaign and requested that it be discussed by the CEC first.
Party secretary-general Lyndall Shope-Mafole said Lekota had told her that it was an omission that the matter was not on the CEC agenda and apologised.
“The CEC expressed its disquiet but accepted the apology tendered to it by president Lekota for the unfortunate oversight referred to above and calls on all those who were aggrieved to do the same,” Shope-Mafole said.
However, while they had reservations about the visits to embassies, the CEC welcomed Lekota’s comments in the public statement that land-grabs had failed in Zimbabwe.
Shope-Mafole said Cope reiterated that it was the responsibility of every South African to work together to build the country and to ensure the Constitution was supreme and that all were equal before the law.
“We view the initiative announced this morning as one important step in that direction,” she said.
Lekota and Kriel said in their statement they wanted to ensure that the international community applied pressure on the South African government and the ANC to honour the Constitution, property rights and the 1994 settlement.
Shope-Mafole said the CEC supported Lekota’s comments that “land reform is necessary and welcomed, but not in the manner followed by Zimbabwe, which was chaotic, confusing and disastrous to the economy, and that land reform should be clear, legal and just; not racially divisive”.
Kriel said the Constitution and the protection of property rights were the result of a negotiated settlement. “President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC’s decision to amend the Constitution unfortunately shows that the ANC is blatantly violating the 1994 settlement.”
As international pressure played a part in convincing the various parties involved in the conflict in SA prior to the first democratic elections to enter into the 1994 settlement, the international community now also had a responsibility to help see to it that the ANC sticks to the agreement, Kriel said.