Gugile Nkwinti. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Gugile Nkwinti. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Speech by Gugile Nkwinti, land expropriation debate

The ANC unequivocally supports the principle of land expropriation without compensation, as moved by the EFF. We may disagree on the modalities but we agree on the principle. There is no question about that. We are committed to implementing the resolution of the ANC which resonates very well with the motion led by the commander in chief, CIC, of the EFF. 

Let’s just put this into context. In the 1930s already, the first president of the ANC, Dr John Langalibalele Dube, said the following:

There are only one-million of you and there are about six-million of us; and one-million of you have three-fourths of the land, and six-million of us have one-fourth of the land. That is not fair ... In asking for more land I do not think we are asking for charity; we have contributed to the development of SA with our labour ... we have done our share in that respect, and in the matter of taxation, both direct and indirect.

That was Dr Langalibalele Dube in the 1930s already. This is the context of the resolution before us.

The black ox has nowhere to feed and the white ox has all the pastures. I am sorry if I cannot make that clear to you

The resolution of the ANC’s 54th national conference, that land should be expropriated without compensation, speaks to this historical injustice, and as the ANC we are committed to correcting it.

Listen to this because I’m addressing the context of this motion. Dr Dube vigorously fought off the commissioner’s views because he was making this presentation to a commission. He vigorously fought off the commissioner’s views that Africans did not know how to use their land properly; that any more would just be wasted; that Africans multiplied too fast; and that they had too many cattle. Dr Dube then said, “The black ox has nowhere to feed and the white ox has all the pastures. I am sorry if I cannot make that clear to you.” He was addressing a commission. Now, this is the context and what I’ve just read is an address by Dr Langalibalele Dube.

The ANC is government now. It is important for us to actually draw this distinction when we talk about modalities, not the principle. The principle is fine. The ANC is government and as government the ANC cannot fail the people of SA because it is the people of SA who put the ANC where it is today, as government. That is why, during his state of the nation address, the President of the Republic, President Cyril Ramaphosa, had the following to say in elaborating on this resolution of the ANC. He said:

... accelerate our land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation.

We will pursue a comprehensive approach that makes effective use of all the mechanisms at our disposal.

Lastly, he said:

Guided by the resolutions of the 54th national conference of the governing party, this approach will include expropriation of land without compensation.

So, there’s no doubt about it. There’s no doubt about it. Land shall be expropriated without compensation. This will be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.

There is a false narrative that land was stolen from the indigenous people of this country. That is a false narrative. Nobody was asleep when land was taken. It was taken through brutal wars of colonialism. So let us do away with this narrative that says land was stolen, as if our people were asleep.

The first war of dispossession — you may call it a skirmish — already took place here in 1659. When the Khoi people went to Jan van Riebeeck and his people they said, we have observed that you are putting up permanent structures here, telling us that you do not intend to leave our country. Jan van Riebeeck doesn’t write in his diary that they actually shot them. You know why they shot them? It’s because ... they went away and came back with their own construction tools to put up their own — what you referred to as the first shacks — which therefore demonstrated that in the first war of dispossession they fought with them; they shot them.

In 1660 at a conference in the Netherlands, Jan van Riebeeck submitted a report, stating that these people came and claimed their land. So, it is not correct that it was after 1913. It was long before that. The people went to Jan van Riebeeck’s men and said it was their land. That was the Khoi and the San. So when all of us as South Africans debate the question of land it is an emotive thing. However, we are government now. We are government now.

In coming to the land audit, which was referred to in the discussions, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform conducted a land audit in 2017. Yes, we will make it available today. We are busy printing copies. You will get copies, sir. Just look at this because we are giving context to the resolution by the CIC of the EFF.

That audit report reflects the following ownership patterns across races. Whites own 26.6-million hectares, which is 72% of the total 37-million hectares of farms and agricultural holdings by individual landowners; followed by coloureds at 15%, Indians at 5% and Africans at a lousy 4%. This is the context of the draft resolution before us.

This land audit which we conducted shows one interesting thing which we must not lose sight of. There are institutions here, trusts and companies. They own land in this country. These institutions are the next target. In the land audit there is a recommendation that we should establish a land administration commission.

Let us be careful here and not fashionable, with capitalists sitting on the left thinking that anything is hunky-dory. No!

There is already a bill before Cabinet — the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill. One of the conditions there is that a land commission should be established and everybody who owns land in this country must declare it. If they don’t do so, action will be taken against them in terms of South African law, because what they are doing is to hide ownership. Trusts will not tell us. We are trying and we have tried our best to find out who constitutes these trusts. They don’t tell us because trusts belong to Justice and ... [Inaudible.] ... belong to the Department of Trade and Industry. You have community-based organisations and you have all these kinds of institutions out there, including churches .... They own land. Of course government should own land. Government should own land because government is the government of the people. It’s a government which is not the government of the people that should never own land.

Now, listen to this. Listen to this because I know that those hon members on the left of this House have this question about communal land out there, etc that belongs to chiefs and, whatever you try to do they say it’s because you are appeasing the chiefs. Listen to this, listen to this, listen to this. This is what Dr Dube said:

Uppermost in my mind and in the minds of African people was the land issue. They needed far more of it, particularly those who could not afford to buy. The land ought to be purchased for them and handed over; all the African areas ought to be properly surveyed and divided into building plots, grazing grounds and gardens. People could pay a nominal rent for their plots.

Then already he understood that there were people who could not afford. So a progressive, revolutionary government ought to then have land and allocate it to people.

When we started the department in 2009 — some of us sitting here don’t want to remember — we checked how much land we had lost because those programmes gave title deeds to people. Let us be careful here and not fashionable, with capitalists sitting on the left thinking that anything is hunky-dory. No!

When we did so we asked them how much land we had lost since we bought land through the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development, LRAD, and Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy, Plas, programmes. They said 5% had already been lost to the market because people who got land and were given title deeds then couldn’t work the land. They went for loans and they couldn’t service the loans, and what happened? The same people who owned the land took the land back. We lost 5%.

That is why we then said we are not doing LRAD anymore. We are only going to focus on Plas. Through that we kept the land and made it available for our people to work. Even now I say, if we think we will just make land available because they say so and give title deeds, be careful. You will lose that land.

When we started the department, 14 farms were already about to be auctioned because our people could not service them. In 2009 we allocated R87 million to defend and protect those farms. That’s why we stopped the title deeds until our people and government was in a position to defend them. Now is the time. We are in agreement.