Let us seize land (legally) – enough is enough – Minister Lindiwe Zulu

Constitutional Court of South Africa

We need to change the Constitution to allow for uncompensated land seizures and abolish laws hindering economic transformation – but land grabs themselves are not on the table “right now.” That’s according to our Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, with the reassuring caveat provided by the ANC’s policy chief, Jeff Radebe. Both were speaking at the World Economic Forum in Durban yesterday. With Radebe being a minister in the Presidency and Zulu saying our fearless leader has now declared that ‘enough is enough,’ on wealth redistribution, there’s little doubt of what’s at stake before the December 2019 elections. This is part of the Zuptoid cadre’s aggressive populist push in advance of both the June ANC policy conference and its year-end electoral conference. Ironically, Radebe speaks of reviving the economy, admitting that junk status will hurt. Pity he didn’t whisper that in Msholozi’s ear earlier. Zulu says she’s mindful of the frustrations of the hungry masses since liberation, and that mere politics won’t fill bellies. Perhaps not, but politics decides policies and policies impoverish or empower. No policy however replaces trust, and that currency is running thin with the electorate right now. – Chris Bateman

by Antony Sguazzin and Michael Cohen

(Bloomberg) – South Africa must change its constitution to allow the seizure of land for redistribution to black people without compensation because the country’s laws are hindering the transformation of the economy more than two decades after the end of apartheid, the minister for small business development said.

President Jacob Zuma has “decided enough is enough” and the ruling African National Congress will now accelerate distributing the nation’s wealth more equally between the black majority and the more affluent white minority, Minister Lindiwe Zulu said in an interview at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban, South Africa, on Wednesday.

President Jacob Zuma introduces Minister Lindiwe Zulu and the South Africa delegation to Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

“There’s nothing wrong with changing the constitution where it’s not helping you – where we need to change, it we will change it,” she said. “Our people are not going to forgive us if we prolong this thing. Radical economic transformation – what does that mean? Ownership of the means of production. What does that mean? Bringing black people into the space of the bigger economy of South Africa.”

Zuma has stepped up calls for so-called radical economic transformation and suggested that the constitution be changed to allow the seizure of land without compensation. He has come under pressure as economic growth stagnates and calls for his resignation from the opposition, civil society and senior officials in his own party have grown following a series of scandals and an unpopular cabinet reshuffle. In March, the ruling party contradicted him, saying it was committed to paying fair compensation for land.

Black South Africans were dispossessed of their land during more than three centuries of white-minority rule and the bulk of profitable farms and estates are currently owned by the smaller group.

‘Eat Politics’

“We have to really push it now because if we don’t, we will find ourselves with the same people we said we liberated saying, ‘You liberated us and then what? We are not going to eat politics’,” Zulu said. “Where government feels there mustn’t be any compensation, there shouldn’t be compensation.”

While Zuma is due to step down as leader of the ANC in December, his successor will pursue similar policies because the “ANC is not an individual,” she said. Still, redistribution must be “orderly” and the land should be used for agriculture and housing.

“This government must not be diverted from the real issues that are facing South Africa,” Zulu said. “The real issues facing South Africa are poverty, inequality and unemployment.”

‘Too Slow’

Jeff Radebe, a minister in the presidency and the ANC’s policy chief, said while land redistribution had been too slow, land grabs weren’t being considered at this stage.

“That is not on the table at the moment,” he said in an interview at the Durban conference. “Everything that we do is in accordance with the constitution.”

Radebe also said the government and ruling party were also working to restore the country’s investment-grade credit rating, which was cut to junk by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd. after Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan as his finance minister.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe

“Those who said the downgrades were not important were wrong,” he said. “There is just no way that a downgrade can be anything other than bad for South Africa. It is making us even more determined to push the story of South Africa. The challenges that we face require that we work closely with business to invite them to invest.”

Those comments echoed the views of Zulu.

“What is important is how the government responds. We have not changed anything in as far as our policies are concerned,” she said. “Now that we have a downgrade what is important for us is to look at the programs that we have and see how we can use those programs how to pull us up. It has to be restored. We don’t have a choice.”

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