The Democratic Alliance (DA) outright rejects the decision made by the ANC suggesting that it plans to insert a clause in the 18th Amendment of the Constitution Bill that will override the jurisdiction of the Courts in determining whether compensation should be made to owners of expropriated land.
The ANC now wants those powers given to the Executive, led by the Cabinet and the President himself. The ANC had originally supported this clause in committee and now, a week before public comments close, they are changing their minds.
This, in essence, means that citizens are now commenting on a version of the Bill that we know the ANC is not really supporting and that they will likely change. This is disingenuous and unfair – the ANC is once again trying to mislead South Africans.
Furthermore, the ANC’s decision is unconstitutional, as it amounts to an interference in the independence of the Judiciary and the separation of powers between the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature. By making such a drastic change to the Bill, a few days before the end of the public participation process on the 31st of January 2020, the ANC has deliberately misled the public and is trying to push through amendments that were not part of the public participation process.
It is entirely inappropriate to allow Cabinet Ministers appointed at the behest of the President to make blank cheque decisions on an issue that is entirely a constitutional matter.
This arbitrary proposal by the ANC on the Bill is no different from the heavy-handed approach adopted by Zimbabwe’s former President, Robert Mugabe. Mugabe used the Arbitrary Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to override court decisions relating to Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, in order to stop the acquisition of land from their registered owners.
By trying to pursue a no compensation approach to land reform, the ANC is putting South Africa’s financial system at risk of total collapse. The Land and Agricultural Development Bank has warned expropriating farmland without compensation could cost the government R41 billion if it is forced to repay the state company’s debt immediately. In addition, farmers currently owe R190 billion in agricultural loans.
The ANC would do well to reconsider accumulating an additional R230 billion in debt, due solely to their arrogance in facing the credit facts when it comes to land reform.