Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Speech by Julius Malema in the land expropriation debate in Parliament:

Almost 400 years ago, a criminal by the name of Jan van Riebeeck landed in our native land and declared an already occupied land by the native population as a no-man’s land.

Van Riebeeck, a first descendant of the Dutch to arrive in the Cape would later lead a full-blown colonial genocide, antiblack land dispossession criminal project, arguing that simply because our people could not produce title deeds, this land, that they have been living in for more than a thousand years, was not their own. Essentially, he was disregarding their humanity, treating them as part of the animal world.

To him and those that would come after him, Africans were less than human, not deserving of land ownership. On this basis, the project of disempowering Africans of the ability to call this place their land was initiated in blood and pain. Millions ended up in humiliating, conquered township conditions of being cheap and disposable labour.

Cecil Rhodes, Paul Kruger, Jan Smuts, General Hertzog, Verwoerd, Botha, even De Klerk, all laboured under the Van Riebeeck assumption that Africans are less than human. They all, one after the other, assaulted the humanity of Africans, keeping them dispossessed of land and as cheap and easily disposable labour.

They became drunk in luxury and glory, building false reconciliation without justice

Since those painful days when the Khoi of the Cape were defeated and conquered at the establishment of the Cape Colony, to the area of the 1 800, with the expansion of the colonial control into the hinterlands, the days of the Battle of Ncome River in 1838 against the Zulus, the Battle of Marico River in 1837 against Mzilikazi in the north of Transvaal, the attacks of Thaba Bosiu of King Moshoeshoe in 1865, the village raids of Vhavenda that led to the heroic resistance by King Makhado in 1867, the capture and imprisonment of Khoi chiefs in Robben Island fighting for land in 1870 up to the Land Act of 1913.

Colonial crimes against the humanity of the native population did not end there with the Land Act of 1913, they continued with the forced removals through the Group Areas Act that displaced millions of black people to live in prison camps we now call townships. The so-called township is not a settlement for human beings. It is a prison camp.

Those who came in power in 1994 carrying the popular mandate of our people to restore the dignity of the African child by reinstating land to the dispossessed forgot their mandate. They became drunk in luxury and glory, building false reconciliation without justice.

It took the formation of the EFF 20 years later to revive the question of the dignity of our people in the need for our land. It took the arrival of the EFF in these chambers to return in the central agenda of human freedom, the need for the land that was dispossessed through brutal crimes against humanity.

The time for reconciliation is over; now is the time for justice. If the grandchildren of Jan van Riebeeck have not understood that we need our land. But over and above‚ it is about our dignity, then they have failed to receive the gift of humanity. We do not seek revenge though they caused so much evil in our land, we do not wish for their suffering, though they caused so much humiliation of countless generations.

All we want, all our people ever wanted, is their land to which their dignity is rooted and founded. Today let us close this question once and for all, let us unite and pay no one for benefiting from the crimes against humanity. Let us come together and agree on this noble, historic and human call to expropriate land without compensation for equal redistribution.

Many want us to debate food security and economic development but how can we do so if we do not have the land. They want us to come to the table with bosses as beggars because that is unacceptable. The ability to develop policies on food security depends on land redistribution, not the other way around. Those who hold the land labour on the false idea that to distribute it we must first establish a food security programme. No, we must distribute the land then we can all talk about the food security programme.

We invite you, not to pick up spears and guns, we invite you to come to the table and realise that nothing means anything for our people except their dignity in land ownership. For a lasting peace‚ security and justice‚ land must be expropriated without compensation for equal redistribution. We would have failed these who came before us if we were to pay anyone for having committed genocide. We cannot thank them for having killed innocent people who were fighting to protect their own land.

Once we say we are expropriating land without compensation there is no investor that will leave the country. They will look at our policy and say, ‘how do we continue to make money within the expropriated land?’

Many say people who came here were running away from their own problems in Europe and our people welcomed them here in SA. It is not true. Why would you engage in a programme to kill people who have welcomed you? Those who are saying we must pay for the land are actually arguing with us that we must thank those who killed our people because those who did so did so with an intention of wiping out a black generation.

We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land. Those who continue to protect these crimes are themselves accused of the crime because those who protect crime are criminals themselves. All of us must come together and say‚ ‘enough is enough‚ our people must get the land’. We have offered the ANC our 6% to amend the Constitution and that 6% still stands to the ANC.

We want to say to the ANC that it is now an opportune moment since you have agreed in your conference to amend the Constitution. Anyone who says we can expropriate land without compensation without amending the Constitution‚ that person is misleading us because if that was the case, the ANC would have long already expropriated this land without compensation. So we need to amend the Constitution and we must do so unashamedly.

It is not unconstitutional to amend the Constitution. It is constitutional to amend the Constitution. That is why the Constitution makes such a provision. We must stop being cowards. We must stop walking on eggshells around white minorities who are governed by the fear of the unknown when it comes to the question of land expropriation without compensation. The investors in this country just want policy certainty.

Once we say we are expropriating land without compensation there is no investor that will leave the country. They will look at our policy and say, ‘how do we continue to make money within the expropriated land?’ So those who do not agree will continue to ridicule our struggle because they never suffered the pain of losing land. They do not know what it means to lose land. So we are saying to all political parties, particularly the ones that represent black people, today, let it be the day of black unity in honour of Robert Sobukwe.