By Andile Mngxitama
Notes on land expropriation without compensation
30th April 2018
Program director, comrades and friends. I thank you Prof Senokoane for the invitation to this important discussion.
Let me start by adding my voice to the global voices that remember our brother James Cone who passed on recently.
James Cone taught Steve Biko and contemporary black consciousness adherents Black Theology (the interpretation of the gospel as a weapon to fight for liberation).
From James Cone we know that God is black and her love gave us land and wealth. The white God dispossessed the children of the black God. Therefore, the original sin is land theft. Those of us fighting for the return of the land are true servants of God. Remember that name – James Cone.
I wish to raise three issues in the time allocated to me.
Black First Land First (BLF) moves from the premise that ALL the land belongs to black people and therefore must be returned to its rightful owners – unconditionally! BLF, ipso facto, rejects any conditionalities attached to land redistribution (the land is ours; what we do with it once we get it is none of your business).
1. A quick response to some of the Unisa philosophy practitioners who are influenced by Prof Ramose and University of Pretoria based Critical Legal Studies comrades.
BLF accepts the arguments around how constitutional sovereignty undermines the constitutional route to land return. We in BLF are proud constitutional delinquents. We don’t accept the legitimacy of the South African constitution! The call for the amendment of Section 25 is a tactical manoeuvre to create societal momentum that must supersede the limitations of constitutionalism and its vicissitudes.
Change doesn’t happen because we have radical ideas in our heads and our journals. It’s only when millions of black people grasp the idea that change will happen.
To Dr Madlingozi, a post conquest constitutional order is not a conceptual proposition but a product of a revolutionary process. We must reconquer the land first!
2. The land expropriation motion passed by parliament recently is a tactic to delay amending the constitution.
I wish to state categorically here today that there shall be no amendment of the constitution before elections next year. If anyone says differently they are lying.
At first we were excited by the motion, even with its misgivings given the amendments demanded by the African National Congress (ANC). But on careful consideration, BLF realised that the motion to expropriate land without compensation was one of the biggest political fraud scams of our time.
Let’s repeat: There is not going to be any amendment of the constitution!
There are both process and conceptual reasons why BLF says the expropriation motion passed in parliament is a colossal political fraud designed to fool the landless black majority for votes.
i) The Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) doesn’t do amendments to the constitution. It never has. The committee only makes recommendations to the relevant portfolio committees.
ii) The CRC has confirmed that in August 2018 it will only be giving a report on recommendations coming from “public participation”.
iii) It takes on average 410 days to introduce a new bill to parliament.
iv) The motion is not about amending the constitution but it is a “roadshow” to ask if we want land expropriation and why?
v) There was a shorter route available to parliament if they were serious about amending Section 25. There is already an Expropriation Bill before the Public Works committee. Why not amend it to bring it into line with the motion?
i) Both the sponsor of the motion (EFF) and the seconder (ANC of Ramaphosa) share a common nervousness around the destruction of the colonial agricultural sector which land expropriation without compensation will necessarily result in.
EFF and the ANC want land expropriation without land expropriation!
Let’s hear it directly from the leaders of both parties:
“I will only entertain the land issue if the black owned farms were productive” – Cyril Ramaphosa
When Ramaphosa speaks about land expropriation without compensation, he gives with one hand and takes with the other. He says yes to expropriation but only if it doesn’t affect the agricultural sector and broader economy. This thinking is anti-black. It equates giving land to blacks to a curse, a source of economic disaster.
The ANC policy drafters have now distorted what President Zuma understood by land expropriation. The final resolutions published recently; says land expropriation must: “… prioritised the redistribution of vacant, unused and under-utilised state land”.
The ANC of Cyril Ramaphosa is ideologically opposed to radical economic transformation which is unapologetic about land return as an answer to all our problems, as President Zuma says.
The EFF shares the same conceptual or ideological opposition to whole sale expropriation of land back to black people.
Let’s directly quote what the leader of the EFF says. Speaking to white farmers in Paarl early in 2015, Julius Malema said, “as long as it’s a productive farm, we don’t have to interfere with the production on that piece of land”.
He also went further to explain that if there is land “which is not used for agriculture purposes, we would be having a problem. All we are saying is the land must be used. It must not lie idle.”
There is, therefore, consensus that land expropriation must happen but it must not expropriation the colonial agricultural sector.
The difficulty with this reasoning is that it gives all the productive land to whites and leaves blacks with unused/reject land. In other words, we have a proposal to basically expropriate land which is rejected by whites.
We do well to remember South Africa is a semi arid country. Only 20% of the land is highly fertile and it’s under intense cultivation as we speak. Eighty percent of the agricultural produce in South Africa comes from this 20% of the land. Let’s say the movers of the motion where to somehow miraculously manage to amend the constitution. Even then, they are speaking about reject land, not the entire South African land, including that which is highly productive. There is an ideological block to decolonisation of land.
What is to be done?
1. Challenge parliamant to amend the constitution before the next elections. If they don’t amend our people must declare them all sell outs.
2. We must go to all of the roadshows to express our view that if they don’t amend Section 25 they must not expect any votes from us.
3. Support Radical Economic Transformation as a minimum programme to unite all black people.
4. Defend all black people under attack from whites. Afriforum is attacking us all. That’s why we must say #HandsOffZuma #HandsOffMalema #HandsOffCaster!
5. Defend the Ingonyama Trust!
3. Focus on land return by any means necesary. We must organise ourselves and take back the land ourselves. When they took our land they didn’t talk about the constitution and laws. They took the land and made laws post the process to legalise the theft.
Land or death!