President Cyril Ramaphosa says land grabs will not happen in South Africa and that land expropriation without compensation will be implemented as a means to extend land tenure rights to all South Africans, not a few.
The president also announced that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had been allocated more money, which was why it had advertised more than 800 vacancies, to enable the “depleted prosecution service” to do its job of tackling serious corruption emanating from state capture.
Replying to debate on his State of the Nation address in parliament yesterday, Ramaphosa said the NPA’s investigative directorate was working closely with law enforcement agencies, the South African Revenue Service, Financial Intelligence Centre, Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Reserve Bank and the private sector, and engaging with the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, to investigate cases emanating from it.
The SIU tribunals would fast track the settlement of civil claims and recover monies stolen. He said Eskom and Transnet had jointly recovered more than R2.3 billion that was lost to corruption in the entities.
“This is just a fraction of what has been lost to the state capture. We want to see more monies that were lost recovered. And they will be recovered as we move forward,” Ramaphosa said.
He said his government was determined that all funds must be found and returned to SA.
Many saw this as a reference to the Gupta family, who refuse to return to SA after allegedly perpetuating state capture and theft of public funds from state entities.
“We need to go and find them and bring them home…” Ramaphosa said.
“All those who stole money from the people must face the full might of the law because South Africa is a state where there is rule of law.”
On the land issue, the President stressed that his government supported the amendment to section 25 of the Constitution that would enable the expropriation of land without compensation.
A Bill was being drafted to clarify the circumstances surrounding how the expropriation would be done.
“This is far from undermining the property rights but it will broaden property rights to all South Africans… [dealing with how] the process is going to be handled in terms of our constitution [and] the rule of law. Land grabs will not be allowed in our country,” Ramaphosa stressed.
Ramaphosa was apparently referring to the apartheid approach, where land rights were mainly reserved for white citizens. The measures put in place were meant to benefit all South Africans, particularly the poor.
Ramaphosa’s reassurance coincided with a damning statement made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that land expropriation without compensation would do more damage to the South African economy.
Ramaphosa did not respond directly to Pompeo, although the US politician came under attack from an ANC ally, the South African Communist Party, and the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, which favour land expropriation without compensation.