Scores of people gather for land hearing

A HUGE number of people flocked to Kokstad for the public hearing dealing with the controversial expropriation of land without compensation matter.

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee’s hearing on amending Section 25 of the Constitution, held at Kokstad Town Hall on Saturday, focused on whether the state should allow expropriation of land without compensation and if the state should amend the proposed bill.

The public hearing was part of a process that is currently taking place all over the country.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Deputy President Floyd Shivambu, traditional leaders, farmers, and community members from as far as Port Shepstone also attended the hearings.

Some people were clad in their political party regalia, with supporters from Democratic Alliance (DA), African National Congress (ANC), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and EFF noted.

Most of the farmers, both white and black, opposed the proposal, saying that the expropriation of land without compensation will bring the economy to its knees. Meanwhile, ANC and EFF members stated that the state must urgently implement the expropriation of land without compensation because of land shortages.

Presenting his viewpoint, Harry Gwala Farmers Association Chairman John Bredin said he does not support expropriation of land without compensation because it will exacerbate an already serious situation.

“We all agree that the current land reform program has failed and, more importantly, has not delivered any positive outcomes in terms of employment, poverty and malnutrition, all of which are relevant to the rural population. The facts show that most of the land purchased under this program is now unproductive and fallow” he said.

He also stated that shortage of productive agricultural land was not the issue, rather it is how it is being used, saying: “the problem is that the available land is not being utilised efficiently”.

Zukile Boyce, from Kokstad, said he believed that the land must be expropriated without compensation because it was stolen from black people. He said they are not compromising food security by expropriating land without compensation.

“In Kokstad, we don’t have land to build houses — land is very expensive and our graveyard is full,” said Boyce.

East Griqualand Land Claim committee representative Cyril George Gangerdine said he agreed with expropriation without compensation, especially for legitimate claims. He said government land must be prioritised for expropriation and that land must be available for the legitimate claims of the descendants of the first nation.

Sizwe Rhadebe said they are fixing the injustices of the past, saying: “Willing buyer and willing seller has failed so the land must be expropriated without compensation and our government must make sure that this process is implemented” .

Dack Ngcobo, from Donnybrook, said he is a black emerging farmer and he does not believe in expropriation of land without compensation.

He said there were farms that were given to black people a few years back but now those farms are no longer productive.

Co-chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee on Section 25 Lewis Nzimande said, as soon as the completed to collect all the views of the people, they will produce a working document.

He said they will also compile a report and table it to both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces and it will be determined by parliament whether to amend the expropriation of land without compensation bill or not.