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Justice & correctional services minister Ronald Lamola has indicated that the ANC will not support the EFF’s proposals to amend the constitution to take all land into state custodianship. This is “nationalisation”, will damage the economy, and is not in keeping with SA’s ambitions, he said. In a country desperate for good news, this was well received.
However, we at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) would caution against regarding this statement as an assurance on future policy. In reality, there is not much that separates the goals of the EFF and ANC; the disagreement owes more to a dispute over method and political credit.
Custodianship is an idea that has arisen repeatedly from within the ANC and state. The ANC’s current proposal on the constitutional amendment — that “certain” land be held in state custodianship — could achieve much of what the EFF has demanded. “Certain” might be defined as all agricultural land, all rural land or all privately owned land, for instance, which would in effect be nationalised by being passed into the state’s custodianship.
Nor is current policy especially inclined towards private ownership — land redistribution beneficiaries are granted leases of varying lengths. During the parliamentary debate amending section 25 in February 2018, then minister of rural development & land reform Gugile Nkwinti was forthright that title deeds were not on the table.
The expropriation without compensation drive is being pursued in several ways, both through the constitutional amendment and through the expropriation bill. Much political capital has been invested by the government and the ANC in pushing it forward.
For this reason, the current version of the 18th Constitutional Amendment demands robust resistance.
Terence Corrigan, Institute of Race Relations
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