The following speech was delivered today in the National Assembly by DA Member of the Constitutional Review Committee, Glynnis Breytenbach MP.
Madam Speaker, Honourable Members,
On 27 February 2018 this House mandated the Constitutional Review Committee to review section 25 of the Constitution, and other clauses where necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation.
The original EFF motion put by the Honourable Malema talked of wholesale expropriation so that land is nationalised and brought into state ownership – and we all know where that will take us. We have witnessed first hand the concern the EFF have for South Africans in general.
The ANC recommendations fall in line with the Nasrec conference where they resolved to support land expropriation without compensation. This is just, again, the ANC giving effect to their policy-making body in red.
Let me be clear – the Democratic Alliance (DA) supports urgent land restitution and land redistribution absolutely. And that includes expropriation where it is necessary and is in accordance with the Constitution.
We acknowledge the terrible legacy of forced land dispossession, the effects of which are still clear for all to see. We support individual land ownership, and encourage the creation of intergenerational wealth that land ownership brings. No one will deny the traumatic effect of land dispossession, nor the pain and humiliation that it brought. It was very painfully obvious during the public hearings around the country.
But Madam Speaker, the ANC has had 25 years to address the pressing issue of land reform and has failed miserably.
There has been no political will to deal with this issue, and what they have achieved could arguably fill the bottom of a thimble. The Land Claims Court has been severely neglected and under-resourced for more than 17 years, in which time it has had at best only 4 judges and no permanent Judge President.
The DA is opposed to an arbitrary amendment of the Constitution because it is totally unnecessary. The Constitution already allows for land reform, in fact it encourages it. The Constitution may already allow for expropriation without compensation where the circumstances warrant it.
This election roadshow for the EFF, paid for by Parliament and supported by the ANC, is nothing more than a cruel hoax. It has allowed thousands upon thousands of South Africans to believe that they will each receive a plot of land. Of course, the ANC has nothing of the sort in mind. In 25 years they have done little to improve the lot of ordinary South Africans.
The DA has a successful track record when it comes to land reform, with a success rate 6 times higher than national government statistics – according to the Department of National Land Reform. We have demonstrated, by putting our money where our mouth is, that we support land reform.
We have recognised individual property rights, and handed thousands of title deeds to property owners. This protects everyone’s rights, and gives effect to the Constitutional compact of one nation, one future. This should not be easily tampered with. Even the ANC agrees that the Constitution is not an impediment to effective land reform.
The ANC, the EFF, and their cohorts have abandoned this Constitutional construct in favour of a vote-seeking hoax. The approach suggested today by the speakers of the ANC and the EFF has been tried elsewhere in the world, and has failed.
This approach has yielded only poverty and misery for the landless and the poor wherever it has been implemented anywhere in the world. It is a blueprint for chaos and economic disaster. It deliberately seeks to stoke racial tension, and by definition relies on force, an approach that has no place in a modern, constitutional democracy.
It is a chaotic, simplistic solution of the corrupt, power-seeking demagogue and should be rejected by all South Africans of every background and persuasion. What is being proposed here is a model that would strip all South Africans of everything. White and Black South Africans alike would lose their homes, their businesses, their intellectual property and more.
No government should be trusted with this much power. Once they have it, it will be very difficult to take away. The Constitution is designed to protect the rights of all South Africans against all governments, including now unthinkable future governments.
The DA stands opposed to any abrogation of existing property rights. These are the bedrock of development and economic growth. Wholesale expropriation without compensation is nothing other than state-sanctioned theft.
The Democratic Alliance will not support it.