Maimane seeks urgent sitting of Parliament after Ramaphosa land announcement

The ANC President announced that the governing party will push for the Constitution to be changed to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa talking to DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN – Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane wants an urgent sitting of Parliament following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest comments on land expropriation.

The national legislature is in recess, but Maimane wants MPs to debate the ANC President's announcement that the governing party will push for the Constitution to be changed to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The DA leader has written to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete requesting her to convene an urgent parliamentary sitting.

His spokesperson Portia Adams says: “We think that it’s quite premature for the president to have made the announcement that the ANC has resolved to expropriate land without compensation and the Constitution will be amended as such. In the Western Cape, we still have land hearings that have to take place between today and Saturday.”

The ANC had said in May it would “test the argument” that land redistribution without compensation is permitted under current laws, a plan that would have avoided the risky strategy of trying to change the Constitution.

The proposal was first adopted in December by the party.

“It has become pertinently clear that our people want the Constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation as demonstrated in the public hearings,” Ramaphosa said in a recorded address to the nation.

“The ANC will through the parliamentary process to finalise the proposed amendment to the constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.”

Most land remains in white hands, making it a potent symbol of lingering inequalities 25 years on from the end of apartheid.

Since white minority rule ended in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model whereby the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks. Progress has been slow.

Some investors are concerned that the ANC’s reforms will result in white farmers being stripped of land to the detriment of the economy, although Ramaphosa has repeatedly said any changes will not compromise food security or economic growth.

South Africa’s economy has barely grown in recent years, with the growth outlook remaining much lower than the 5% annual growth government is aiming for to make a dent in near-record unemployment.

Data showed on Tuesday that South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 27.2% of the labour force in the second quarter from 26.7% in the first quarter.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)