Anger about land must be channelled constructively - Albie Sachs

The anger about South Africa's racially unequal land ownership distribution needs to be channelled in a constructive way, former Constitutional Court judge and struggle stalwart Albie Sachs said on Friday.

He was one of several speakers at the University of Cape Town's Department of African Studies' colloquium on land. 

"I don't like war talk," Sachs said. "We've got to find ways other than war.

"You can't take your morality from the enemy," he said, adding that Oliver Tambo had taught him that "you must be the captain of your own morality". 

He said the tone of the debate had changed quite considerably of late.

"Change is uncomfortable, change is disruption."

'Anger of ages'

Sachs said there were, however, degrees of disruption and that the tone was important.

"It doesn't mean people mustn't be angry, it is the anger of ages. We need to channel anger in a constructive way."

Lawyer and author of The Land is Ours advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said the question of land ownership was really the question of citizenship. He explained that when the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, English-speaking whites and Dutch-speaking whites were granted citizenship, but not the native people. The 1913 Natives Land Act was a consolidation of this. 

He said the question at the time, which led to the formation of the ANC, was, "Without land, are you truly a South African?

"Whites decided natives can stay on the ground, as long as they're tenants and labourers."

Ngcukaitobi said the Constitution wasn't the problem, but rather a Eurocentric legal culture.

Director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights Phephelaphi Dube said South Africa's legal culture had "failed to keep up with the transformative nature of the Constitution", especially Section 25. 

She too was not convinced that Section 25 of the Constitution needed to be amended, as its limits hadn't been tested. 

"We've got the Expropriation Bill sitting in Parliament for two years, there does not seem to be a political will."

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