The issue of land expropriation without compensation was always going to be contentious. But the events of the past week have shown how politicians are mishandling it supposedly in the name of their people, and it’s about time that ordinary South Africans — not their leaders (elected or unelected) — were given the right to make a decision through a referendum. Two issues have sparked the latest controversy. First, it is the misunderstood report of the high-level panel headed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe; and second it is the parliamentary process to review section 25 of the Constitution to enable land to be expropriated without compensation beyond the scope envisaged in the current version of the Constitution. Motlanthe was asked by Parliament to review laws passed by the National Assembly and the report — yet to be adopted by Parliament – recommended, among others, that changes be made to the so-called Ingonyama Trust, which controls huge swathes of land in KwaZulu-Natal. ...

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