Amendment of Constitution necessary for Land Expropriation- Ramaphosa

Amendment of Constitution necessary for Land Expropriation- Ramaphosa


By Khaya Sithole

As the public consultations on the land debate meander towards the end, the ANC has finally committed to supporting the amendment of section 25 to facilitate uncompensated land expropriation. This week the NEC Lekgotla mandated the ANC President – Cyril Ramaphosa – to inform the country that the ANC is of the view that an amendment is necessary in order to provide clarity on the conditions under which uncompensated expropriation can be effected. This will be done through the parliamentary process which presumably means that the ANC’s own submission to the Constitutional Review Committee will be in support of the amendment.

Given the EFF’s longstanding position on the matter it is now a foregone conclusion that Parliament will vote for an amendment. The remaining trick however it what exactly this amendment will look like.

In the ANC’s statement, there is an acknowledgment that expropriation is within the ambit of the Constitution but clarity on qualifying circumstances is what is missing. This means that the ANC has now committed itself to identifying conditions under which uncompensated expropriation will be justified and then seeking to incorporate these into the Constitution.

Inevitably, this will be subjected to debate and legal challenges from multiple fronts. The ANC’s primary challenge is to accommodate the views of its primary constituency – black people who suffer from acute land hunger – and also roll out a land reform plan that becomes an enabler rather than an impediment to general economic prospects.

Most skeptics around the land debate keep highlighting that any move towards a regime of uncompensated expropriation will be disastrous for the economy. However, given the fact that a Constitutional amendment only creates an instrument of intervention that might still be ignored by the government of the day; it is difficult to take such hysterical views seriously. What is more useful for society to engage on is the issue of how the economic fundamentals can be kept intact even under a regime in which uncompensated expropriation exists as an instrument of facilitating land reform.

The reality of our political system is that the ANC simply doesn’t have the latitude to slack on the land conversation at this late stage of an electoral cycle. To that end, all stakeholders need to start engaging on what should be acceptable conditions for uncompensated expropriation. Leaving the matter in the hands of politicians will have dire consequences for all of us in the long run.

Listen to full conversation with David O’Sullivan on Breakfast with David