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Ramaphosa: Citizens want Constitution to be more explicit on land redistribution

Speaking via a televised address late last night, President Ramaphosa said the ANC’s lekgotla agreed to implement its conference resolution to expropriate land without compensation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the African National Congress (ANC) will push to have the Constitution amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

Speaking via a televised address late on Tuesday night, Ramaphosa said the ANC’s lekgotla agreed to implement its conference resolution to expropriate land without compensation.

He further announced a stimulus package aimed at kick-starting South Africa’s sluggish economy.

Following a two day Lekgotla, the ANC decided that Ramaphosa should address the public on its decision to push ahead with amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation

Ramaphosa said it has become clear that South Africans want the Constitution to be more explicit on land redistribution.

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

He says the aim of the amendment is to promote redress as well as to increase agricultural production and food security.

PRESSURE MOUNTS

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 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.

Ramaphosa said the unemployment figures were “quite worrying,” saying the ruling party has told the government to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite economic growth.

Ramaphosa said the measures will, among others, include increasing investment in public infrastructure.

“This stimulus package will be based on existing budgetary resources and the pursuit of new investments, while remaining committed to fiscal prudence,” Ramaphosa said.

PUBLIC HEARINGS END

Public hearings on land expropriation enter their final leg as they head to the Western Cape this week.

The joint constitutional review committee, which is facilitating the hearings, is scheduled to hold hearings in Oudtshoorn from Wednesday.

Parliament had instructed the committee to determine whether a review of Section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses is necessary to make it possible for the state to expropriate land, in the public interest, without compensation.

Public hearings have already been held in eight provinces.

They will culminate in Cape Town this weekend, following a gruelling two months of hearings that have crisscrossed the country.

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith said: “It’s been a hectic ride and strenuous on all the participants. But overall I think South Africans have come out in their numbers to have their say more than we’d estimated when we began the process.”

The committee has heard a variety of views from farmers, farming associations, emerging black agriculturalists and political parties.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)