Today, the National Assembly adopted a motion moved by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to establish an ad-hoc committee to review and amend section 25 of the constitution to make it possible for the state to appropriate land without compensation. The DA voted against this motion and it is important that we provide reasons for this and to clarify our position on land reform.
We want to make it unequivocally clear that the DA is completely committed to redressing the history of violent land dispossession in South Africa and we recognise the unjust legacy left by this dispossession. We view land reform as a social justice imperative which all South African must rally around. This should never be used as a tool to score cheap political points or to use the scars of the past to further divide our nation.
What we need is a policy that will ensure that black beneficiaries of land reform are empowered and supported through adequate funding of such programmes, a ruthless rooting out of corruption, and the political will to implement properly.
The current approach by the ANC government sees the state as ‘benevolent’ custodians of all land, with individual black farmers denied the opportunity to really own land. This, we argue, is not real land reform. This is permanent tenancy and dependency. We prefer a model which sees emerging black farmers for the dynamic businesspersons and entrepreneurs that they are, who should be entrusted with full title and ownership of the land. Only then will we have a vibrant, thriving, diverse agricultural sector that truly redresses the past.
Where the DA governs, we have pioneered this model, with truly encouraging results. We have also pioneered a meaningful commitment to make true homeowners of government housing recipients in urban contexts. We have already distributed more than 75 000 title deeds in the metros where we govern. This method not only provides black farmers with the dignity of owning their own property but it also provides access to funds through financial institutions. Surely this is true economic freedom and none of this would be achieved through expropriating without compensation. We believe this is something we can all be proud of.
We do not agree, however, that the Constitution is an impediment to land reform. Making this argument lets the ANC off the hook on the real impediments – corruption, bad policy and chronic underfunding. We should be working together to force the ANC to account for its patronising view of black farmers, and its two-decade long failure to take land reform seriously. By arguing for expropriation without compensation, the ANC has been gifted the perfect scapegoat to explain away its own failure.
Expropriation without compensation would severely undermine the national economy, only hurting poor black people even further. We therefore cannot support such an approach.