Aug 1, 2018: Cornered ANC intends to amend Section 25 of the South African constitution

The ANC has announced its intention to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The decision was made public on Tuesday night in a televised announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa following a two-day lekgotla of the governing party’s national executive committee (NEC).

Ramaphosa said that while the Constitution allowed for expropriation without compensation in the public interest, it had become “patently clear” that the majority of South Africans want it to be “more explicit” on the issue.

“The lekgotla reaffirmed its position that a comprehensive land reform programme that enables equitable access to land will unlock economic growth, by bringing more land in South Africa to full use, and enable the productive participation of millions more South Africans in the economy,” Ramaphosa said.

The ANC would finalise an amendment which outlined the conditions under which land could be expropriated without compensation could be carried out and move it through Parliament.

“The intention of this proposed amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development, increase agricultural production and food security. It will also transform the unjust spatial realities in urban areas,” Ramaphosa explained.

He said the ANC wanted government to start farmer support programmes, which would provide beneficiaries of land reform with tractors, seed, skills and other support needed to ensure their success in food production.

He further announced that a “stimulus package” to spark growth and create jobs would also be implemented, focusing on increased investment in public infrastructure; better support for entrepreneurs, small and medium business and trade support for sectors like the sugar industry which are being crippled by import surges.

The package, which would use both existing budgets and new investments, would also focus on developing rural and township communities by ensuring various tiers of government focused their procurement on local service providers.

Ramaphosa said the package was aimed at offsetting the effects of the rising cost of living and tackling high levels of unemployment, particularly among women and young people.

The decision to implement the ANC resolution which was taken at the December elective conference last year, is seen as a strategic move to counter the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) ahead of the crucial 2019 national elections. The EFF has thus far dominated public debate at the constitutional amendment review hearings on land.

Soon after the conference in December, some ANC leaders — including Ramaphosa — appeared to be taking a softer stance to the radical resolution taken at the conference by insisting that the Constitution in its current form allows for land expropriation without compensation. (Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg)