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The saga of land expropriation without compensation has thankfully drawn to a conclusion. On Tuesday, 7 December 2021, the National Assembly could not pass an amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution authorising expropriation without compensation.
The ANC failed to obtain the required two-thirds majority during the amendment voting process because neither the DA nor the EFF supported the amendment.
In the end, 204 MPs voted in support of the bill, 145 voted against it, and there were no abstentions. A two-thirds majority requires a total of 267 votes.
ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, who chaired the ad hoc committee that drafted the bill, said that by passing it, the House would have the opportunity to “eradicate the original sin in the interest of all South Africans.” He further stated that the bill sought to address the “crime against African humanity” – land dispossession. Furthermore, Motshekga claimed that those who oppose the bill say that the suffering of Africans in particular, and black people in general, should continue.
However, Dr Annelie Lotriet MP, Chairperson of the DA Parliamentary Caucus, emphasises that this was a victory for South Africa’s constitutional order. She explains, “We have long argued against the need to amend Section 25 of the Constitution because, in its current form, it already has enough provisions to enable a just and equitable land reform process. Since its formation on 6 December 2018, the Section 25 Ad-Hoc Committee was just a political theatre for warring ANC factions and the radical fantasies of the EFF. In their hurried attempt to pursue expropriation of land without compensation and nationalisation of land, the two parties exposed their disdain for the Constitution and inalienable property rights of all South Africans.”
Furthermore, she observes that the outcome was the culmination of three wasted years in which Parliament was forced to process a Bill with grave implications for the economy, the rule of law, and food security. “The ANC knew about these dangers hence their steadfast refusal to allow for an Economic Impact Assessment to be conducted.”
When looking at land reform, Dr Lotriet explains, “What South Africa needs is a pragmatic and rational approach that will operate within the confines of current constitutional provisions on land reform. Nationalisation of land and the exclusion of the courts from adjudicating land expropriation cases, as proposed by the ANC and the EFF, would have undermined the rule of law and reduced South Africa to an economic wasteland.”
AfriForum, the civil rights organisation, also weighed in on the issue. Ernst van Zyl, campaign officer for strategy and content at AfriForum, says, “The failure of a deeply immoral Bill that would allow state-approved theft and human rights violations is a great victory for South Africans. Expropriation without compensation is an inhuman policy that is motivated by a combination of corrupt greed and resentment.”
Furthermore, he emphasises the catastrophic devastation caused by expropriation without compensation policies in countries such as Zimbabwe and Venezuela. These countries people suffered under such policies. “That is why the defeat of an attempt to recreate those horrible and destructive policies here in South Africa must be celebrated,” Van Zyl concludes.
The EFF, on the other hand, holds an entirely different viewpoint.
In a statement, Julius Malema noted, “Those of us who are committed to the repossession of our land must now look at possible extra-parliamentary means of repossessing our stolen land. This is not the end of the fight for land repossession; the fight has just begun.”
The EFF voted against the amendment because they saw it as a sell-out deal that, if passed, would represent a significant retreat from their quest for a comprehensive resolution of South Africa’s land question.
All we know is that by removing this Bill from South Africa’s problem pile, hopefully, foreign investment and our economy will pick up.
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