'ANC to make room for land expropriation in Constitution'

The ANC national conference says it has agreed that the Constitution must be amended to achieve land expropriation without compensation.

Enoch Godongwana gives a press conference on the outcomes of the economic transformation commission at the ANC’s elective conference. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) has announced it will move to change the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation after a debate became so heated that it nearly collapsed the party’s national conference.

Godongwana, the chairperson of the ANC’s economic transformation committee, says however that it was also decided that expropriation would have to pass a sustainability test so as not to threaten food security, agricultural production and other sectors of the economy.

Godongwana was addressing the media on economic transformation.

“The NEC will initiate some amendments in the Constitution’s Section 25 in order to achieve expropriation without compensation.”

He says there is generally anger across the board about land in South Africa, and they want to ensure this does not have a negative impact on society.

“There’s general anger across the board about land. No one who lives in South Africa can deny that fact. The pace of land redistribution and restitution, particularly for farmworkers, all of these things taken together propel and fuel this anger within our communities.”

The ANC is under pressure over its lacklustre implementation of land restitution and redistribution, a vacuum being exploited by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Godongwana says there’s no timeline for implementing this decision.

“Part of that process is something that says how do we process this information or put all of this information together and begin to say what’s a sustainable way of pursuing this objective and therefore take the recommendation to the lekgotla at the end of January (sic).”

Party officials are denying that security had to be called in after delegates came to blows, but incoming chairperson Gwede Mantashe had to come to the fore to calm tempers.

However, Godongwana told EWN the debate was so fierce it nearly collapsed the conference.

“The debate was strong to the extent of getting rowdy but no one was beaten in the house. It was tough, it nearly collapsed the conference.”

The Constitution’s Section 25 allows for expropriation of land for a public purpose, or in the public interest, and subject to compensation which must be just and equitable.

In order to change the compensation, the ANC needs a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. On this, it can rely on the EFF’s vote.

LISTEN: ANC resolves to expropriate land without compensation