Fellow South Africans,
Today we are here at the Western Cape leg of the countrywide public land hearings mandated by Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee. The purpose of these hearings is to hear from the people of South Africa as to whether and how section 25 of the Constitution requires changing to ramp up effective and economically empowering land reform.
Although, it appears the ANC does not care about the opinion of the people of this province. Because on Wednesday they announced that they will definitely be changing section 25 of the Constitution. So it appears these land hearings are about ticking boxes, not consulting South Africans.
Fellow South Africans, I want to say up front that the DA is 100% committed to land reform. We believe land reform is essential, to redress the ills of our past. South Africa’s history of racial dispossession has left the country with skewed patterns of ownership that excludes most South Africans from land. This must be fixed.
In fact, DA-run governments are miles ahead in terms of instituting real, meaningful land reform that empowers those left behind. By contrast, the ANC’s approach has been to put more land into state ownership and then lease it to black South Africans, turning them into perpetual tenants, dependent on the government for survival. This is not progress.
However, over the past days and weeks, it has become clear that these hearings, and this debate, is not about the people and progress. It is about power and holding onto it.
When President Cyril Ramaphosa, as ANC president, used the SABC to make a Zuma-style late-night announcement on Wednesday, he wasn’t thinking about land or justice. He was thinking about keeping the ANC together and neutralising the electoral threat of his new populist pals in red.
Or maybe it is about buying the EFF’s support, so that they can get back control of metros like NMB, that they ran into the ground with their corruption and maladministration.
Fellow South Africans, the ANC is being reckless and irresponsible and gambling with the livelihoods of our people. Our economy is already in a terrible state. In the first quarter of this year it contracted by 2.2%. This week, we learnt that unemployment has gone up. Almost 10 million adults are now without work.
And at the same time, the government is driving up the cost of living with fuel price increases, VAT increases, sin tax increases. People are suffering terribly. The very last thing they need is a severe blow to the economy.
Land expropriation without compensation is not the silver bullet that will ensure justice. In fact – the very opposite. It will undermine private property rights and hurt our economy and jobs. It will scare away investment which is vital for job creation and economic growth
Zimbabwe’s experience shows us there is still room for things to get a whole lot worse. To protect themselves, the ANC is leading SA down a slippery slope that leads to random land grabs, random deprivation of private property, empty supermarket shelves and empty stomachs. The President knows this as well as I do, but the ANC comes first and South Africa last.
That is why he is willing to put populism over principle and process. By making this announcement before the completion of the Constitutional Review Committee’s hearings, he is undermining Parliament. And he is undermining the public participation process, which the Constitutional Court has already ruled needs to be more than a mere box-ticking exercise. By using the public broadcaster, he is undermining the principle of separation of party and state. Quite simply, he is undermining our democracy.
And of course, he is undermining our Constitution. He knows as well as I do we don’t need to change the Constitution to accelerate land reform, we need to implement it. The Constitution already allows for effective land reform, including for expropriation without compensation in specific instances. In fact, the Constitution doesn’t only enable effective land reform, it demands it.
But the ANC needs to deflect blame for their land reform failures, and they’ve chosen the Constitution as their scapegoat. They have failed dismally to carry out the Constitution’s instruction. Its land reform programme is blighted by corruption, incompetence and underfunding.
Fellow South Africans, we don’t need a new Constitution, we need a new government. Freedom comes to people when they have more power, more ownership. Freedom drains away when more power is handed to a corrupt government that centralises ownership in the state and turns people into perpetual tenants.
By contrast, the DA’s approach is to hand out title deeds. Where we govern, we have already distributed over 100 000 title deeds, empowering over 100 000 families with ownership of an asset they can use to raise a loan to start a business; an asset they can leave to their children.
We also support share equity schemes, whereby those who work the land share in the profits. Where we govern, we have a 60% success rate in agricultural land reform, achieved by giving comprehensive support to emerging black farmers. In contrast, the ANC National Government has a 90% failure rate when it comes to land reform projects.
We have established a Land Reform Advisory Desk and District Land Reform Committees to provide the necessary support to emerging farmers. And we are the only provincial government to commission an external evaluation of all land reform farms within the province
Fellow South Africans, we need to face up to some hard truths. The ANC no longer works for the people. They tell us stories that are lies.
I call on all South Africans to reject populism, embrace constitutionalism, and work together to build One South Africa For All.