Deputy President David Mabuza has condemned land grabs and warned those who instigated it that the law will take its course to ensure the rule of law is maintained.
Responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday, the deputy president said incitement to violence and lawlessness were an antithesis of “what we stand for as a constitutional state”.
“As government, we condemn any incitement to lawlessness, particularly one that results in land grabs, as these are in violation of the laws and the constitution of our country,” Mabuza said.
“We reiterate our call to the citizens of our country to exercise restraint, and to allow government to implement the necessary policy and constitutional reforms aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past as reflected in skewed and inequitable patterns of land access and ownership,” he said.
In this approach there was no room for chaos and anarchy perpetrated under the guise of land reform.
Mabuza urged municipalities to put in place by-laws to regulate processes for dealing with land access and use in the areas. “To discourage unplanned and disorderly occupation and use of land, government has put in place legislative measures that guide planning and land use management decisions at all levels, including local government,” Mabuza said.
He cited the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act that designated various land portions for specific use, depending on spatial development priorities for earmarked land in any given locality. Various land uses could range from human settlements, agriculture and social infrastructure to industrial use.
The government had committed itself through the release and redistribution of strategically located state-owned land, to ensure that land was made available for agricultural development, human settlements and economic development, including a targeted focus on stimulating rural and township economies.
“For us, the historical injustice of land dispossessions and resultant skewed patterns of its ownership, impose a moral obligation to correct the wrongs of the past by expanding access to land to promote greater economic inclusion and social cohesion.
“To achieve this, government is currently implementing a comprehensive land reform programme in a systematic, orderly, and responsible manner consistent with the rule of law…therefore, it goes without saying that land grabs disrupt orderly and systematic planning and development, including the provision of requisite infrastructure to support land use decisions,” he said.
In an apparently reference to the ANC decision to avoid the courts being the ones that determine land expropriation without compensation or whether zero compensation must be paid or not , Mabuza stressed that that the country is a constitutional democracy and the constitution provided for the principle of the separation of powers.
“According to this principle, the power of the state is divided into three different, but inter-dependent components, namely the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Neither the Cabinet, which is the executive authority, nor parliament, which is the legislative authority, may supersede, ignore or undermine the constitutional powers of the courts, which are tasked with judicial authority,” Mabuza said.