Albertina Nakale Windhoek-Following a vote in South Africa’s parliament to move land reform closer, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says the land issue should not lead to negative economic growth because if it leads to that then it means the issue is not being addressed properly. The South African parliament took a bold step on Tuesday to hasten the transfer of land from white to black owners when MPs backed a motion initiated by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema seeking to change the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation. EFF controls six percent of parliamentary seats. The motion was passed with the support of the ANC, IFP, NFP, UDM, Agang, AIC and APC. This means that parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee, which comprises members from both houses of parliament, will have to report back to the National Assembly by August 30 and its process will include public hearings. Ramaphosa, who was on a one-day state visit last Friday in Namibia, says this will be achieved by addressing the land issue positively and take away the “panic and fear instilled in the hearts of South Africans”. He further said the land issue would be handled “very responsibly” to ensure that the majority without land get access to it. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has long promised reforms to redress racial disparities in land ownership and the subject remains highly emotive more than two decades after the end of apartheid. Whites still own most of South Africa’s land following centuries of brutal dispossession. “The motion that was passed in parliament had its genesis at the ANC conference where delegates representing almost 4,000 branches of the ANC, across the length and breadth of the country, felt this is now the time, the hour and the moment to address the land question. The great part of the land in our country is still owned by the minority,” Ramaphosa said during a televised interview at State House on Friday. He said South Africans felt the government needs to speed up the land reform process and the resolution taken was that they must bring about land reform and expropriate land without compensation. “But making sure as we do so, we ensure the economy is not negatively impacted. We must ensure there is a boost of agricultural production and ensure there is food security,” he noted. Ramaphosa said after his inauguration two weeks ago that he would speed up the transfer of land to black people although he stressed that food production and security must be preserved. Launching a debate on the motion in parliament, Malema the radical EFF leader had said, “it is time for justice” on the land issue. “We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land,” he said. The motion was passed by 241 votes in favour versus 83 votes against. Parliament then instructed a committee to review the constitution and report back to it by August 30. According to Reuters, it was not clear when any change to Section 25 of the constitution to allow expropriation of land without compensation would take place. Together, the ANC, EFF and other small opposition parties could muster the two-thirds majority needed for a constitutional change. The ANC supported the motion with some amendments. Its deputy chief whip, Dorries Dlakude, said the party “recognises that the current policy instruments, including the willing-buyer willing-seller policy and other provisions of section 25 of the constitution may be hindering effective land reform”.
2018-03-05 09:04:23 6 months ago