Mmusi Maimane. Picture: REUTERS
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: REUTERS

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has called for Parliament to reconvene urgently to deal with the contentious issue of land expropriation without compensation.

This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s late night announcement on national television on Tuesday that the ANC had decided to change the Constitution to expropriate land without compensation. Parliament’s constitutional review committee is currently holding public hearings across the country on the matter and is due to report back in September.

Maimane said on Wednesday that Ramaphosa’s announcement "is a direct attempt to undermine Parliament and is contributing to no confidence in the economy".

"I have therefore written to the speaker of the national assembly, Baleka Mbete, requesting the immediate reconvening of Parliament for an urgent sitting to deliberate on this matter. Parliament’s constitutional review committee was established to ensure the voice of the people is heard as to whether section 25 of the Constitution ought to be amended. We need to establish where this process has been properly followed," said Maimane.

Parliament is currently in recess and is only due to reconvene in the middle of August.

"It beggars belief that while there are still half a million submissions to be processed by the constitutional review committee, and no less than five public hearings still to be conducted in the Western Cape, the ANC has decided to jump the gun, undermine this public consultation procedure, and render the entire process moot," he said.

It is incumbent on Mbete, "as the guardian of this constitutional body, to protect it from being undermined by political machinations and brinkmanship", Maimane said.

"I implore her to act in the best interests of the country, not the ANC…. The ANC cannot on its own amend the Constitution as it requires a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament. It appears the ANC is being led by other populist parties who only want to sow division, eradicate property rights, and see our economy implode. We call on all South Africans to reject populism and stand up for constitutionalism in building One SA for all."

"Expropriating land without compensation would damage the economy and lead to many more joining the ranks of the unemployed. Therefore, the DA can never support such a policy," Maimane said.

In Tuesday night’s announcement, Ramaphosa, who was speaking in his capacity as ANC leader, said it had become "patently clear that our people want the Constitution be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings".

Meanwhile, DA MP and communications spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said the party was concerned that the SABC as a public broadcaster allowed Ramaphosa to address the nation in his capacity as the president of the ANC regarding resolutions the party had taken.

"The DA will, therefore, write to the SABC requesting a right of reply for our party leader, Mmusi Maimane, to state our position on land and the unemployment crisis. If the SABC fails to grant this, it will be the clearest indicator yet that the entity is officially an ANC mouthpiece and not a public broadcaster," said Van Damme.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za