The South African Communist Party (SACP) said on Monday it welcomed the policy of expropriation of land without compensation as another means of achieving land reform.
“While we do not believe that the existing constitutional requirement of paying just and equitable not market compensation has remotely been an impediment to serious land reform, in fact, the constitutional right to expropriate in the public interest has never been used for land restitution,” the party’s general secretary, Dr Blade Nzimande, said during a press briefing.
He said the country’s constitution made provisions for the state to determine the amount to be paid as compensation for expropriated land, which is hardly used by the government.
“So we do not want this then as a populist measure that we also go for this expropriation without compensation, and we still do nothing about it,” Nzimande said.
Another party that has called on the policy to be implemented without fail is the EFF, which intends to table a motion in parliament tomorrow on the policy.
Nzimande said the implementation of the policy would “move land reform … out of its current confused and spineless dead end”.
“In general, the SACP aligns itself with the findings and recommendations of the high-level panel chaired by former President Kgalema Motlanthe on the land question,” the general secretary said.
The panel’s findings include:
- That with regards to land legislation, among other policies, that the public and experts in many instances agreed fully with the content of the policy and legislation, but identified fundamental problems with its implementation.
- There seems to be a general agreement that the implementation of legislation is not so much hampered by a lack of financial resources than by a lack of political will to give effect to the policy objectives, as in the case of land reform, where the panel found that there was a movement away from constitutional imperatives such as equitable access to land in favour of a system of state ownership.
- About land reform there are various proposals, including framework legislation for land reform in general, which would make provision for specific guidelines, processes and requirements to ensure transparency, accountability and good governance of land reform, as well as legislation that will recognise the registration of land rights, such as those of people in communal areas, cities and on farms. It is also recommended that more transparent processes should be in place to select beneficiaries of land reform. Beneficiaries should also be able to indicate what form of tenure they prefer;
- The economic and development outcomes of restitution to date have been poor. It will probably take between 35 and 43 years to process the outstanding restitution claims alone. Several recommendations are made around restitution, which includes the establishment of a research unit within the land claims commission, a proposal that the 1913 cut-off date should not be brought forward and that the old-order claims be finalised as soon as possible;
- Only 0,4% of the national budget is currently spent on land reform and only 0,1% is allocated for the acquisition of land. Moreover, land is not transferred to the beneficiaries but remains in the hands of the state;
- An important finding is that the Constitution, and specifically the property clause, is not an obstacle to land reform. Payment of compensation is certainly not the biggest problem, but rather the corruption by officials, diversion of the budget to certain elite groupings, a lack of political will and lack of training and capacity.
He added that budgeting for “effective and productive” land reform has not been thorough.
“The focus has been on necessary but limited land restitution at the expense of forward looking land redistribution and security of tenure, especially for those, mainly women often living under patriarchal arbitrary subjection in the former Bantustans and farmworkers on commercial farms,” Nzimande said.
He said the land issue had mainly tended to focus on rural areas while urban areas are faced with the critical challenge of radical transformation.
“The property market [in urban areas] produces and exacerbates apartheid space with as much cruelty and forced removals and the all group areas legislation once did,” Nzimande said.