African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Jackson Mthembu has said the governing party does not want to expropriate land without compensation for it to be nationalised.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – a party that tabled the parliamentary motion on the policy earlier this year – holds that all land should be nationalised and placed under the custodianship of the state.
Briefing the media on the work of the ANC parliamentary caucus for the year 2018, Mthembu said: “The ANC has never, never pushed for the nationalisation of land so that the state becomes a custodian, it has never. We are saying, yes, let’s amend the Constitution so that there is clarity that, yes, expropriation without compensation is a possibility, is an option, that is basically what we are saying – it’s an option among many options.”
Mthembu said the ad-hoc committee, which would be established following a motion passed by the National Assembly on Thursday, would be tasked with drafting the amendment to section 25 of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
Earlier during the briefing, Mthembu announced that the governing party’s names for the ad-hoc committee are Thoko Didiza, Vincent Smith, Phumzile Mnguni, Rosina Semenya, Lindiwe Maseko, Nono Moloi, and Phumzile Ngwenya-Mabila.
“In fact, we will move, in the ad-hoc committee, in its first meeting, that Angela Thoko Didiza chairs the ad-hoc committee. She is a capable lady who also has vast experience in this area, having done some work in this area in her past life,” the chief whip said.
Mthembu reiterated that once the Constitution had been amended, land expropriation without compensation would be an option, among several, to land reform, saying: “We are not the EFF, therefore, we don’t agree with the EFF that the state must have ownership of the land.”
Mthembu said the policy should be used to benefit those who had been historically dispossessed, who need the land the most and emerging farmers, amongst others.
“So, you need a mechanism, but you should not, for you to give the land back to those that the land was taken from, you [the state] first have it, cause once you first have the land, you locate it in your register as the state, you might as well commit the very same mistakes that were committed by other countries. You might give the land to your cronies. You might give the land to the well-connected. Therefore, that is not the intention of the ANC.”
The governing party’s intention, Mthembu added, “is to address the original sin”, which was the historical dispossession of the land “and making of our people landless”.
“That’s where we are. I think it’s a fight we will have with the EFF when we deliberate on this matter. But we can assure you that the ANC will not blink.”
After the National Assembly adopted a Joint Constitutional Review Committee report recommending that section 25 of the Constitution should be changed to explicitly provide for land expropriation without compensation, the EFF said it would not be willing to compromise on its first cardinal pillar, which is nationalisation of all land.
On Wednesday, The National Council of Provinces also adopted the committee’s report, which means a Bill may now be introduced.