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'Changing Constitution won't address problems hindering land reform'

UCT's Zanande Booi says the question is whether changing Section 25 of the Constitution will actually deal with the deep-seated structural and systemic problems that stand in the way of land reform.

FILE: Zanande Booi says the question is whether changing Section 25 of the Constitution will actually deal with the deep-seated structural and systemic problems that stand in the way of land reform. Picture: Refilwe Thobega/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Parliament’s been told that changing the Constitution will not address the many problems identified as a barrier to land reform.

University Cape Town’s Land and Accountability Research Centre says Section 25 already allows for expropriation without compensation for land reform in certain clearly defined circumstances.

The joint constitutional review committee is holding public hearings this week on whether the Constitution should be changed to help speed up land reform.

The centre’s Zanande Booi says the question is whether changing Section 25 of the Constitution will actually deal with the deep-seated structural and systemic problems that stand in the way of land reform.

Booi says amending the Constitution won’t do this and could affect people’s rights to redistribution, restitution and tenure reform.

“Focusing on the amendment of the Constitution as proposed here today, is also very much a red herring, in that it does not respond to many of the very substantive issues that have been identified in reports commissioned by the state.”

He says currently many poor black people in rural communities in the former homelands are already experiencing expropriation of their land without compensation by the Ingonyama Trust and under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

Booi says the only defence that communities have is Section 25 of the Constitution.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)