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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

If land expropriation gets us votes, what a nice bonus, says ANC

The constitution is unlikely to be changed before next year's elections, though rhetoric around it may boost their chances of clinging to power, the ruling party hopes.

The ANC parliamentary caucus has shrugged off a perception that this week’s decision by the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) to endorse a resolution to amend section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation was geared to attain more votes in next year’s polls.

It said the party would nevertheless welcome “such a positive development as an added bonus”.

The CRC resolution for constitutional amendment – unlikely to be passed by the fifth democratic parliament before the elections – was yesterday slammed by the FW de Klerk Foundation, which described it as “ideological and party political”.

“We have noted with deep concern the majority decision of the CRC to recommend to parliament the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution,” said the foundation’s executive director Theuns Eloff.

It was clear, said Eloff, “that the outcome of the so-called democratic process was decided before it began”.

He said the CRC majority failed to take into account “the very sensible and correct arguments of those who are opposed to expropriation without compensation, but rather followed an ideological and party-political line”.

Eloff said: “The democratic ideals of public participation appear to have counted for nothing. This will leave any decision of parliament open to court challenges – quite rightly so.

“We are further concerned that President Cyril Ramaphosa this week held meetings with South Africa’s biggest trading partner – the EU (European Union) – assuring them that South Africa is a safe partner, while the ANC-proposed amendment to section 25 could potentially destroy the very basis of property rights.”

ANC caucus spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli said expropriation of land without compensation was “not an elections gimmick”.

She said the CRC decision was in line with last year’s 54th national conference of the ANC.

“It is not an electoral gimmick but a mechanism to resolve a longstanding problem which we have not been able to address. Should it have a positive impact on the ANC electorate, that will be a positive development and an added bonus,” said Mhlauli.

Political analyst with Unisa Somadoda Fikeni said he doubted whether the passage of the amendment before or after the 2019 polls would sway the electorate’s perception on political party loyalty.

He said people wanted land for housing, while the current debate focused on land for farming.

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