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‘EWC won’t happen in 100 years’ says former President

MAIN IMAGE: Former President Kgalema Motlanthe addresses the Real Estate Industry Summit (REIS 2019).

Expropriation without compensation (EWC) will not happen says former president Kgalema Motlanthe. The former president spoke on land reform, restitution, redistribution and security of tenure at the recent inaugural Real Estate Industry Summit (REIS 2019) hosted in partnership by Private Property and Absa last Friday in Sandton.

Motlanthe criticised the 5th Parliament’s reception of the report they received from the High Level Panel, which Motlanthe had led since 2015. He confirmed what he has said repeatedly before that the High Level Panel he chaired recommended other ways to Parliament to truly effect land reform, but the political will to execute them is lacking.

Motlanthe explained that the panel did a thorough study and found that since 1994 government had been dealing with land reform in a ‘piecemeal hit and miss fashion’ – meaning they tended to amended legislation only when an issue was highlighted in the media such as with farm evictions for example.

The problem with land reform wasn’t the Constitution

The panel also found that Section 25 in the Constitution, the section that deals with the expropriation of property in the public interest for just and equitable compensation, was adequate. However there was no reliable cadastral register with complete records of who owns what in terms of land, especially with regards to the former homelands and with relation to commercial farms leased from government. In 2017 the panel’s recommendation to Parliament was to pass a law of general application, as this is necessary to effect the expropriation of property as described in S25. The panel even drafted an example of what such a law would look like, but their report was read by very few in parliament, in fact it wasn’t read at all Motlanthe says.

“Instead they decided that Section 25 of the Constitution is implicit about the right to expropriate without compensation. This is implied. Now they want to make it explicit. That’s actually a detour,” says Motlanthe.

He continued that the panel found that the Constitution in it’s current form makes all the right provisions for land reform. The problem is not the Constitution, but it is lack of political will to do anything. Motlanthe said come April next year Parliament will pronounce that expropriation without compensation isn’t a good idea and they will direct the successive Parliament to do something.

“Property has got to be protected. Property has value. I think the members of Parliament also own property and they want it protected, so I won’t be unduly worried about it,” he says.

He continued that what is necessary is that government begins to be clear in their messages on land reform especially when the economy is like it is now.

How land reform should be addressed

Motlanthe says the solution to land reform begins with addressing the following categories:

  • Issuing of title deeds in urban areas where there is most acute demand for land
  • Ensuring security of tenure for farm dwellers
  • Ensuring security of tenure for villagers in the former homelands

“If we take care of these three categories, and it will cost nothing and it can happen tomorrow, then we will have addressed the land hunger of the broadest section of South Africans. Instead we are taking detours,” he says.

Motlanthe emphasized the importance of giving people title deeds as this gives them access to the formal economy.  He said the government should stop ‘dilly-dallying’ and implement the recommendations made by the High Level Panel as the landless in the country has already run out of patience.

  • Watch the full address delivered by former president Kgalema Motlanthe at REIS 2019.

Government says Constitution will be amended

This is not the first time that former president Motlanthe criticised Parliament for ignoring the recommendations made by the High Level Panel. Apparently, some of the leadership in his own party, the ANC, aren’t in agreement with him. Deputy President David Mabuza said in Parliament this week that the government remains committed to amending the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. He made this statement in response to a query from the EFF with reference to the address delivered by Motlanthe at REIS 2019.

It was mentioned at the REIS summit last Friday that foreign investors are keen to invest but need to hear some good stories.

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