Mbeki’s land policy pamphlet gets support from surprising quarters

Thabo Mbeki

After being severely criticised by some ANC bigwigs, the former president’s views on the land issue have been praised by a variety of commentators.

As former president Thabo Mbeki’s opponents within the ANC took turns to lambaste him over his criticism of the ANC land policy, the party’s head of economic transformation subcommittee, Enoch Godongwana, took a different view.

“Former president Mbeki’s paper is a balanced critique of the 54th conference resolution on land expropriation without compensation. The document also makes good proposals at the end. It would be a mistake to simply dismiss it,” Godongwana tweeted yesterday.

In the same tweet, he said he enjoyed reading the pamphlet which the Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) unveiled this week.

Godongwana, who was one of the Cyril Ramaphosa strategists before and after Nasrec, always put forward sober and researched views on economic issues.

His view contrasted those of Mbeki’s avowed opponents such as ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, former ANC minister of arts and culture Pallo Jordan and former ANC portfolio committee on defence chairperson Tony Yengeni, who all criticised Mbeki for his pamphlet.

Speaking at the handing-over of a house to Mananki, mother of the late child activist Stompie Seipei, in Parys, Free State, this week, Magashule lambasted Mbeki, demanding he toe the line and respect the decision of the party.

Another Mbeki opponent, Yengeni, reacted with a tweet disagreeing with Godongwana.

“Mfxim..! What is balanced there? That resolution is an ANC resolution not a Zuma resolution and it is not inconsistent with the nonracial character of the Freedom Charter..! And by the way Madiba [Godongwana] we are here implementing not debating, sanukusibuyisela umva maan! [don’t stop our progress].”

The 30-page document said the ANC’s original mission had been to help eradicate the legacy of colonialism and apartheid and simultaneously help create a nonracial and nonsexist society, and the decision to expropriate without compensation was a first for the party in its 106-year existence.

The document criticised the ANC’s idea of taking land from whites and giving it to blacks, saying this amounted to a betrayal of the ANC’s identity.

“Instead of the document being misconstrued as an attack on the ANC and/or its leadership, it must be accepted as a call for a serious, reflective and constructive discourse on the matter that has bedevilled our country throughout the colonial and apartheid periods to date,” said Max Boqwana, TMF chief executive officer.

Boqwana said the document was intended for internal discussion within the foundation and was not yet intended for publication.

He said the ruling ANC should pay attention to the fact that the land issue and the national question were intimately interconnected.

The foundation was adamant that the “land question” as an historical injustice required urgent redress.

“The ANC must lead a critical engagement on the policies of the past 24 years adopted by the democratic government to address the land question,” he said.

The Congress of the People’s national chairperson, Pakes Dikgetsi, said his party welcomed the document, which he described as “constructive guidance on the land questions” and “enriching the process” to find a solution to the question of land reform.

“The content orientation and historical account of the land question as contained in the pamphlet are narrated very clearly and factually,” Dikgetsi said.

But Jordan told a talk radio 702 show that the foundation’s view was “a falsification” of the ruling party’s stance on the land question and the pamphlet misrepresented the ANC’s approach to the land question.

Wits University vice-chancellor Adam Habib, who participated in the 702 show, later tweeted: “Looking at the commentary on Mbeki’s paper and all I can do is sigh! Too many don’t read, yet comment.”

ericn@citizen.co.za

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