South Africa

Land Issue

Germiston community supports expropriation without compensation, but criticises its ambiguities

(Illustrative Photo: Leila Dougan, Daily Maverick)

The hot potato that is land expropriation without compensation is often tossed around by politicians for their own gains. For landless black South Africans, it is about restoring their dignity. Nonetheless, many remain concerned about who will benefit — the politically connected or the poor?

On Sunday 15 March, the Germiston City Hall in Ekurhuleni was filled with EFF and ANC party supporters gathered for a public hearing chaired by the Ad-hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution. 

Those in attendance expressed strong support for the expropriation of land without compensation, with many repeating that when the land was taken away from black people, there was no compensation.

This was a feeling shared by many during the hearings held by Parliament’s Constitutional review committee on the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution in 2018.

“Land expropriation without compensation is a just and equitable process to restore the dignity and justice of our people,” said Lesiba Mpya, a resident of the City of Ekurhuleni. 

His point of departure was that if expropriation without compensation was to become a reality, the land should be prioritised for housing. 

“Housing may not necessarily mean ownership. It is in this regard that I believe the bill must include the expropriation of land without compensation to improve access to housing as well,” Mpya said. 

The highly politicised event was dominated by EFF members who all seemed to have been reading from the same script — every speaker emphasised that when land is expropriated, the state should be its custodian, including all its resources.

A visibly agitated EFF member who introduced himself as Mayise Simelane rose to ask when the land will be expropriated. 

“When are we going to expropriate this land? There is nothing to talk about, we must take the land back to the people, we are tired. Let us expropriate the land,” he said. 

Lindiwe Zondo, an ANC supporter from Thokoza, said the land had already been compensated for by the blood that was shed during apartheid. 

“We are not asking for it (the land), we are taking it. No one should be compensated, that was done when the blood of our forefathers was shed in apartheid times,” she said.  

Those that provided alternative views on whether land should be expropriated without compensation were concerned about two aspects of the draft bill — its ambiguity on how the land will be expropriated and the benefactors after the process is legislated.

Jane Malinsky, a councillor from Germiston, said land expropriated should be used for advancing the economy. She also cautioned that communism did not work. 

“Just like nationalisation, communism does not work; there is no incentive. I’ve been here since 1969, and I come from a country where communism did not work,” she said.

Elsa de Beer criticised the draft bill’s vagueness in aspects relating to private ownership. She submitted that the draft bill “is not clear about how it will relate to private property”.

“It also does not state how land will be expropriated and who will benefit from it, ” De Beer said. 

The ad-hoc committee is expected to report to the National Assembly on 31 March on the steps taken thus far to initiate and introduce the amendment of Section 25. DM


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