Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
1 Mar 2018
6:06 am

Land grabs are ‘illegal and unnecessary’

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

Expert Shadrack Gutto criticises parliament for failing to properly read, interpret and implement land reform sections of the Constitution.

A farm worker on a tractor works a field on a farm in the Oudtshoorn district of the Klein Karoo in the Western Cape province of South Africa. File image.

The motion passed by parliament on expropriation of land without compensation was against international legal norms, according to an expert, and also unnecessary.

Constitutional expert Shadrack Gutto criticised parliament for continuously failing to properly read, interpret and implement section 25 and other sections of the Constitution that dealt with land reform.

While the motion was tabled by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the ANC, which joined and supported the motion, said it was in line with its latest resolution on land reform.

During its 54th National Conference the party resolved to pursue expropriation of land without compensation in a way that somehow would not destabilise the agricultural sector, endanger food security or economic growth and job creation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation Address, said that this was to ensure that “the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under the brutality of colonialism and apartheid”.

But has government overlooked existing mechanisms to fast-track land reform in a sustainable and equitable way?

“In my view, looking at the resolution, it is based on a lack of governance since 1994. It has failed really to have a proper and progressive interpretation of Section 25,” opined Gutto. “Therefore, the blame is being put on section 25 rather than the weakness of government to interpret the section progressively.”

He added that issues such as security of tenure have also slipped through the cracks of land reform policy as a result of this lack of adequate interpretation. One such example of this was the willing buyer-willing seller policy.

“The provisions for the restitution of land under this legislation have been abused. Government has just been dishing out money to owners of land without proper evaluation in term of section 25 and factoring in how it was acquired, and what input government must make in terms of funding those farmers.”

Having sparked the ire of Julius Malema and other supporters of the expropriation resolution in parliament, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said the resolution was a misdiagnosis of South Africa’s land ownership discrepancies.

“First of all there clearly has not been a proper interpretation of the constitution, which is a living document tasked to govern a situation.

“One of the first things people recognise about the constitution is it starts off by saying that we must assess the situation that we find ourselves in and it established the rules of operating to correct that situation.

“We were initially conquered by a military force which overpowered the people of this country and we were colonised over centuries … you cannot undo centuries of wrongdoing within a few decades; it has to be a process.”

Also read:

Lekota lays into Ramaphosa over land expropriation

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