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ANC’s late-night land announcement: Here’s what Cyril Ramaphosa ACTUALLY said

JOHANNESBURG — When alerts and tweets started buzzing on Tuesday night about President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing that the ANC would change the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation (before he had actually even made his announcement on the SABC), I, like many, found myself throwing my hands up in the air. When Cyril then started talking after the news broke, I watched as the rand briefly nosedived against the US dollar. But then this morning I woke up, saw that the rand hadn’t completely blown up and I carefully read Mr Ramaphosa’s full speech. And to be fair, what Ramaphosa says in his speech is not a bombshell at all and is extremely rational in its contents. As you will see in the full speech posted below, Ramaphosa clearly states that “a proper reading of the Constitution [as it currently stands] on the property clause enables the state to effect expropriation of land with just and equitable compensation and also expropriation without compensation in the public interest.” Ramaphosa then goes on to state that “our people want the Constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings.” He drives home the point again by saying: “the Constitution as it stands does not impede expropriation of land without compensation.” He then says that the “ANC will, through the parliamentary process, finalise a proposed amendment to the Constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected (sic).” Now, it’s clear – from reading his actual full speech – that the ANC wants an amendment to CLARIFY what is currently in the Constitution rather than a WHOLESALE CHANGE of Section 25 of the Constitution. Nowhere in this speech does he threaten private property rights. I will leave this here, but what he says really isn’t unreasonable at all and it will have to undergo a thorough process through Parliament as well. – Gareth van Zyl

Late-night televised speech by ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa, July 31, 2018

Fellow South Africans

Comrades and Friends,

The African National Congress has just concluded a two-day NEC Lekgotla in Tshwane.

The Lekgotla focused on a number of issues, including the current status of our economy, job creation and land reform.

It further engaged on issues of governance, social development and broader transformation which will be elaborated on by the secretary general tomorrow. (Wednesday)

We thought that it was important for the President of the ANC to clearly and unambiguously articulate the position of the organisation on two matters that are critical to the economic development of our country and the well-being of its people.

The first is the implementation of the ANC’s resolution on land reform.

The second is about the current economic environment.

On land reform, the ANC applauds our people, from all walks of life – including the rural poor, farm labourers, the unemployed, the landless, urban residents, farmers and traditional leaders – for expressing their views on this critical matter.

Our people have been expressing their views on the land question openly and without any fear or favour.

They have been putting forward solutions on how the land question can be resolved.

This is the constitutional democracy that we fought for.

The ANC reaffirms its position that the Constitution is a mandate for radical transformation both of society and the economy.

A proper reading of the Constitution on the property clause enables the state to effect expropriation of land with just and equitable compensation and also expropriation without compensation in the public interest.

It has become patently clear that our people want the Constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings.

There is also a growing body of opinion, by a number of South Africans, that the constitution as it stands does not impede expropriation of land without compensation.

The lekgotla reaffirmed its position that a comprehensive land reform programme that enables equitable access to land will unlock economic growth, by bringing more land in South Africa to full use, and enable the productive participation of millions more South Africans in the economy.

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Insignia of the African National Congress (ANC)

Accordingly, the ANC will, through the parliamentary process, finalise a proposed amendment to the Constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be affected.

The intention of this proposed amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development, increase agricultural production and food security.

It will also transform the unjust spatial realities in urban areas.

To accelerate agrarian reform, the ANC has further directed government to urgently initiate farmer support programmes in depressed areas before the first rains this year.

This should include supporting farmers with tools, tractors, fertilisers, seeds, extension services, finance and access to key infrastructure.

Our economy is facing serious challenges. The recently released figures on unemployment are worrying.

Given this economic environment, the Lekgotla directed government to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite growth that will lead to the creation of jobs, especially for young people and women.

These efforts should focus on rural communities and townships.

This stimulus package will be based on existing budgetary resources and the pursuit of new investments while remaining committed to fiscal prudence.

It will comprise, amongst others, of the following:

  • Increased investment in public infrastructure.
  • Increased support for entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for youth and women, as well as small and medium businesses.
  • Trade support measures for sectors such as sugar and products affected by big import surges
  • Ensure that procurement focuses on localization
  • Training for unemployed young South Africans with the skills necessary to compete in a rapidly-changing economy.

As deployees of the ANC in government, we have committed that the work to develop this stimulus should start now to ignite growth, tackle unemployment and mitigate the effects of the rising cost of living.

We call on all South Africans to work with us in developing a social compact for economic inclusion, economic growth and jobs for all.

I thank you.


South Africa’s ANC resolves to change Constitution on land

By Paul Vecchiatto and Nkululeko Ncana

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s ruling party decided to complete a proposed amendment to the nation’s constitution to make it clearer under what conditions land can be expropriated without compensation, prompting the rand to plunge.

This brings the African National Congress closer to the populist Economic Freedom Fighters party, after the ANC said earlier that land redistribution will only be done in a manner that doesn’t harm the economy, agricultural production or food security. In May, the party said the government should test the nation’s current laws on land because it may not be necessary to change the constitution to ensure expropriation without payment.

Land Grab. More brilliant cartoon work available at www.zapiro.com.

Proposals to change the constitution has raised concern among some investors that it signaled a shift to a radical land-reform strategy. The rand erased gains against the dollar after Tuesday’s announcement, and was 0.8 percent weaker at 13.3739 at 7:37 a.m. in Johannesburg Wednesday.

The purpose of the amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development, increase agricultural production and food security, the ANC said in an emailed statement after a meeting of its National Executive Committee in Pretoria, the capital.

Lawmakers started a process to change the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation in February after the ANC decided last year to adopt the measure to speed up giving black people more land. Access to land is one of the symbols of inequality in the nation of about 56 million where wealth and poverty are largely divided along racial lines.

Public hearings

Public hearings about the proposal started last month.

While the constitution’s property clause currently allows the state to expropriate land with just and equitable compensation and also expropriate without compensation in the public interest “it has become patently clear that our people want the constitution be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised speech.

The ANC will contest national elections next year in the first ballot since the opposition won control of several key municipalities, including the biggest and richest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria, in 2016.

‘Pre-election phase’

“This is a surprising and premature announcement by the ANC because parliament is still in its review process on changing the constitution,” Lawson Naidoo, executive director of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, said by phone. “Parliament still has to gather and evaluate the many submissions that have been made. We are in a pre-election phase and the ANC announcement is part of that.”

The ANC also wants to government to urgently implement a “stimulus package” to boost economic growth and create jobs, including increased investment in infrastructure and support for small businesses, while not jeopardizing the budget.

Africa’s most-industrialised economy hasn’t expanded at more than 2 percent annually since 2013 and unemployment is near a 15-year high at 27 percent.

The ANC “reaffirmed its position that a comprehensive land reform program that enables equitable access to land will unlock economic growth, by bringing more land in South Africa to full use, and enable the productive participation of millions more South Africans in the economy,” Ramaphosa said.

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