The African National Congress (ANC) announced land expropriation without compensation as part of their policy at the 54th national elective conference held at Nasrec last December. The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, subsequently announced that the government would be reprioritising land redistribution.
Land redistribution has been slow as the government had promised to deliver 30% of the agricultural land to black people by 2013, which was the centenary of the 1913 Land Act which saw black people being allocated a total of 13% of the country’s land, the government failed to reach this target.
This failure is largely blamed by the current ‘willing seller, willing buyer policy’ which states that individuals have the freedom to sell their land to whomever they deem fit.
“The issue of land has been a matter of great concern to our people whose land was forcibly taken away from them. It is a matter that has caused a great deal of pain and hardship and resulted in the poverty that we see in our nation today,” President Ramaphosa said in his maiden speech at the conference.
A motion to amend Section 25 of the Constitution which speaks to property ownership has been passed and national public hearings are currently being held to garner public opinion on the matter. Section 25 of the Constitution currently states that land may be expropriated “only for a public purpose or in the public interest” and with compensation.
The term ‘public interest’ brings an interesting dynamic as public interest is a subjective term as was evidenced by recent attempted land grabs in Protea Glen. Residents of Glen Ridge protested against attempted land occupation allegedly by neighbouring Naledi residents.
The residents of Naledi stated the reason for their occupation as a need for housing. “People are here looking for shelter, they want a place to stay. This is the youth and they are unemployed, they don’t have places to stay. Therefore they came here to get stands for themselves,” said Kenneth Ntwaetsile in an interview with broadcaster, eNCA.
The residents of Glen Ridge were however unwillingly to accept this occupation and took to the streets to protest as they felt that this occupation would decrease the value of their homes, increase the already high crime rates in the area and increase their service bills as the illegal occupants would build illegal connections that they would eventually have to pay for according to Glen Ridge residents, Laurence and Leah Khiba.
The Freedom Charter, the document which forms the cornerstone of South Africa’s democracy, has been the subject of debate at the national public hearings on the amendment of Section 25 of South Africa’s Constitution. The Freedom Charter which was compiled in 1955 states the freedom ideals people aspired to, one of them was for the landless to be given land.
The Charter states that land must be shared amongst those who work it, this has been used to encourage land expropriation without compensation by those who are championing the cause such as Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema.
“Our call still stands: People must occupy the land. That is what the Freedom Charter says and if any court finds me guilty then it will have to find the Freedom Charter an illegal document,” Malema said after a court appearance last week over his calls for black people to take the land back from white people in 2016.
Residents are urged to let their opinion be heard at the national public hearings which will take place in Gauteng on July 26, 27 and 28 at the Rand West Local Municipality, Emfuleni Local Municipality and Tshwane Metro Municipality respectively.
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