As the commission on land and the economy completed its report to last weekend's ANC lekgotla, President Cyril Ramaphosa told his gathered comrades that the party was losing the moment in the parliamentary hearings on land. The two-month-long, countrywide hearings had opened up the floodgates of significant black pain: about land, about housing and about finding a way out of bone-crushing poverty. The term "expropriation" had been weaponised into an instrument of promise and of fear, and a middle road was no longer possible. The young EFF had commandeered the hearings and the old ANC had been found wanting, the lekgotla heard. The party did not have a plan at the hearings and so it was clear to Ramaphosa that he had to do something. A few nights later, on Tuesday, he took the extraordinary step of making a national TV address in party regalia to tell the country that the governing party had decided a constitutional amendment would be passed to make explicit the right to expr...

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