SA’s biggest post-apartheid test; rational, reasonable redistribution of land

CAPE TOWN — Reading the latest ANC statement on expropriation of land without compensation it is clear that two things will soon happen. The existing Constitutional section will be tested while the lengthier process of amending it begins and legislation eliminating ambiguities is enacted. Foot dragging and uncertainty are history. This is no small thing; among other things, we’re talking about transforming the apartheid geography of our cities and towns to unlock economic value. The space that will script the ensuing dramas of course is contained in a single word; how. How to deal with irascible, entrenched traditional leaders, how to craft communal land ownership, how to give title deeds to millions of township dwellers – a process already underway in Gauteng. How to find living space in our inner cities. Whether the next chapters will be written in blood or the ink of rationality and reason depends on how soon South Africans can break out of opposing trenches bearing white flags to meet on the bomb-cratered territory of No Man’s Land. – Chris Bateman

ANC statement:
Insignia of the ruling African National Congress (ANC)

The ANC National Executive Committee convened a consultative summit over the weekend of 19-20 May 2018, focusing on its 54th National Conference resolution on land redistribution, and in particular the use of expropriation without compensation as a primary instrument to speed up land and agrarian reform.

The summit included representatives from COSATU, SACP and SANCO, from NGO’s, communities, black farmers associations, lawyers, valuators and other professionals working in the sector.

The summit focused itself on broad issues of land redistribution and its recommendations will be submitted to the next ANC National Executive Committee meeting expected to sit this coming weekend from 26th to 28th May 2018.

At the core of the issues discussed was the review of Section 25 of the Constitution. The workshop recommends that the ANC make a submission to the Constitutional Review Panel of Parliament, based on the Conference resolution.

It furthermore interrogated the need for a law of general application on the issue of expropriation as required by the Constitution. Other legal issues which the workshop looked at included provisions for expropriation in other legislation such as the SA Schools Act, and more specifically expropriation in the’ public interest’ and for ‘public good.’

The workshop also reiterated the ANC’s position in other policy documents – that land ownership in South Africa continue to be a mix of state, private and communal land ownership and that the challenges and opportunities for redistribution, urban development and agrarian reform, as well as the rights of black communities, be considered in each of these ‘sectors’ of land ownership.

Call to action

The consultative summit acknowledged the ANC’s historical role is the key player in the creation of South Africa’s democratic order and bill of rights.

Accordingly, the ANC will continue to defend the core values of our constitution while ensuring that its transformative impulses and democratic intentions are strengthened and clarified through the current Constitutional review processes.

Land Grab. More brilliant cartoon work available at

The summit called on the ANC to adopt a more comprehensive and multi-pronged approach that is based on the following steps:

  1. Immediately use Section 25 of the Constitution to press ahead with expropriation of land in order to test the argument that the constitution does permit expropriation without compensation in certain circumstances.
  2. Immediately pass the Expropriation Bill and Land Redistribution Bill to bring greater clarity to the transformative intent and impact of the Constitution.
  3. Ensure that the Constitutional review process is used to avoid ambiguity and bring greater clarity to Section 25(2)(B) of the constitution, if it is found that the current legal formulations impede or slow down effective land redistribution.

The workshop proposed that the ANC proceed to affirm the amendment of Section 25 (2) (b) to immediately effect the principle of expropriation without compensation for public purpose and interest.

The summit also received input from and noted the report of the Motlanthe High Level Panel on Assessment of Key Legislation & Acceleration of Fundamental Change, and recommended that the ANC further engage with the specific issues raised and the recommendations outlined in the report, including engagements with traditional leaders and communities living on communal land.

Flag map of South Africa

The workshop outcomes document to the NEC will contain recommendations on accelerating urban land redistribution, so that we decisively change the apartheid geography of our cities and towns and unlock economic value in townships, villages and small dorpies.

The recommendations identify the need for a South African agrarian revolution as a key component of land redistribution, promoting small holder farmers, and working together with emerging and existing farmers.

The plight of farmworkers and labour tenants was also a particular issue of concern, as millions of them continue to face insecurity in the land of their birth. The NEC will be asked to take decisions that will ensure that particular measures are taken to protect farm workers and dwellers, and that their continued precarious position in our society is addressed.

The ANC’s 54th Conference resolution on Land Redistribution is a call to action, to decisively break with the historical injustice of colonial, apartheid and patriarchal patterns of land ownership, and to build a South Africa that belongs to all.

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