Cope speaks on rural development, land reform

 

COPE MP Deidre Carter yesterday delivered the party’s stance on Rural Development and Land Reform and the budget vote.

See the full speech below:

Chairperson, let me be blunt about it: The Constitution is no impediment to land reform. I repeat, the Constitution is no impediment to land reform.

In fact, Section 25 of the Constitution provides a mandate:

 

  • for transformation:
  • for restitution;
  • for redistribution;
  • for equality;
  • for security of tenure;
  • for access to land.

Chair, it even provides for the expropriation of land – but on the proviso that it is not:

  • arbitrary
  • or subjective
  • or capricious
  • or vindictive …

but rather that it is undertaken in terms of a legal framework… and for a public purpose or in the public interest … and subject to compensation that is just and equitable.

Chairperson, the Congress of the People reiterates its position, and we are convinced that history will prove us right:

We are firmly of the view that the current provisions of Section 25 of the Constitution provide the vision and the foundation to heal the divisions of our past and to establish a society based on social justice and fundamental human rights – in respect of land.

And we will continue to: defend the Constitution; promote land reform and equality; to restore lost dignity through land reform; and to protect the rights of the present generation of title holders as provided for in the Constitution.

Chairperson, I have here in my hand, a copy of the ANC’s 1992 ‘Ready to Govern’ policy as adopted at its National Conference and I quote therefrom:

It will be unjust to place the whole burden of the costs of transformation on the shoulders either of the present generation of title holders or on the new generation of owners. The state therefore must shoulder the burden of compensating expropriated title holders where necessary and subject to the provisions in the Bill of Rights”.

Chair, it is beyond doubt that it is the ANC that is deviating from its values and principles.

And COPE posits it that the genesis underpinning this sudden change is to be found in the factional battle that continues to threaten to split the ANC… a battle in which issues such as ‘Expropriation of Land Without Compensation’ and the ‘Nationalisation of the Reserve Bank’ and the ‘White Monopoly Capital’ narrative were and are being used as proxies between two warring factions.

Secondly, Chair, the sudden change is to hide the abject failure of the State, under the direction of the ANC, to effect meaningful land reform – as pointed out by the High Level Panel Report.

Chair, the High Level Panel Report is clear:

 

  • That compensation for land has not been the main obstacle to land reform;

 

  • That it is government that is failing as a consequence of:

 

  • Rampant corruption;
  • The capture of land reform budgets and projects by a political elite;
  • Incapabilities of the current administration;
  • Insufficient budgetary provision for land reform which in real terms has decreased over the past 20 years – which points to a lack of political will;
  • A movement towards making land reform beneficiaries tenants instead of empowering and ensuring their sustainability;
  • An unwillingness to resolve land tenure in tribal areas for narrow political ends;and
  • Little or no attempt to implement or test government’s expropriation powers as currently provided for in Section 25;

The end result is, as the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies notes, that land reform has regressed in the 24 years under the ANC.

And as Professor Ben Cousins posits it: the ANC are ‘not only reproducing the inequalities and divides of apartheid, in some cases, they are actually deepening them’.

Finally, Chair, its hard not to conclude that the current tensions for land and housing that we see manifesting as ‘land grabs’, are in the main a cry for much needed housing close to our cities as our people leave our rural areas in the hope of jobs and a better life.

In the circumstances, COPE condemns the failures of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and rejects its budget as being wholly insufficient – and evidence of the ANC’s lack of political will to meaningfully address Land Reform.

 

 

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