EFF leader Julius Malema. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MICHELE SPATARI
EFF leader Julius Malema. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MICHELE SPATARI

EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema now asserts that the state custodianship over all land his party is insisting on will have little impact, so “people will continue to have full rights to their homes and other property” (“EFF threatens to block ‘sell-out amendment’ as expropriation row hots up”, Business Day June 2).

But this is not what Malema stated back in March 2018, when the constitutional review committee was kicking off the process of amending section 25 of the constitution to allow expropriation without compensation and the EFF was pushing hard for state custodianship too.

Said Malema at that time: “Every title deed will be meaningless and the state will be the custodian of the land. The government will then outline what use the land will be for.”

An EFF policy document further explained the custodianship concept, saying:

  • The transfer [into custodianship] should happen without compensation and should apply to all South Africans, black and white”;
  • Those who are currently using the land ... will apply for land-use licences”, which should be granted only if the state approves the purpose for which the land is to be used;
  • These licences will last “for a maximum of 25 years” and will be renewable with state approval, but the state will also have “the right to withdraw the licence and reallocate the land for public purposes”; while
  • The 25-year maximum will apply to “all land leases”, whether these are sought by individuals or “by private corporations”.

So much then for the EFF’s current reassurance that “the state will not be able to change user rights as and when it pleases ... because it will not own the land fully”.

The EFF and Malema are talking out of both sides of their mouths. However, what they said in 2018 provides a far more accurate assessment of what custodianship would mean and how it would destroy the property rights of all South Africans, including the black majority.

The EFF doubtless wants the ANC to back custodianship even more strongly than the ruling party already has. But if the country is to avoid an economic meltdown of the kind seen in Venezuela and Zimbabwe, all South Africans need to resist its siren song.

Anthea Jeffery, Institute of Race Relations

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