Ramaphosa says no to nationalisation of land

President Cyril Ramaphosa has unequivocally distanced himself from the Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF's) position on the nationalisation of land. 

Answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, Ramaphosa said it was decided at a recent Cabinet lekgotla that the state should embark on a process of rapidly releasing land which belonged to it. He said there is a great deal of land in municipalities which should be released as serviced stands.

In a follow-up question, EFF leader Julius Malema said the state must own all the land – including the wealthy Cape Town suburbs of Hout Bay and Camps Bay.

"This thing of title deeds is a setup," Malema said.

He said those who propose that people be given title deeds know they are poor and will sell their land, which means the wealthy can buy it back.

He asked if Ramaphosa agrees that land should be nationalised.

Tittle deeds

Ramaphosa said Malema's concern that beneficiaries of title deeds will sell their land was a "false fear" and said he did not support nationalisation.

"People given title deeds become so proud that they own something they built with their own hands," he said. 

"Yes!" shouted some DA MPs.

"We should not rob our people from this deep yearning and quest to own their own property," Ramaphosa continued.

He said land reform must empower people.

Ramaphosa was pleased that there was "growing agreement" in the country that the racially skewed pattern of land ownership must be altered.

He praised the largest farmer's organisation, AgriSA, for saying that colonialism and apartheid had been "really bad for land ownership" in the country. 

"They say: 'We want to correct the injustices of the past'."

Ramaphosa met with representatives of AgriSA on Tuesday.

He criticised those "spreading lies and rumours" like conservative lobby group AfriForum, who went "overseas saying the ANC is after a land grab". 

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Ramaphosa insisted, as he had done since the ANC adopted a resolution at its conference in December, that the process must be orderly.

The initial questions were posed by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.

Maimane asked if the ANC's announcement on July 31 that it will support amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation undermined the parliamentary process of considering if the section must be amended.

Ramaphosa said he made the announcement as ANC president, just like other leaders of political parties made a pronouncement about the issue, including Maimane himself.

He said the decision was informed by the views of the people at the Joint Constitution Review Committee's public hearings, and also ANC members.

Stability 

He said the ANC "seeks to make explicit what is currently implicit in the Constitution" – that land can be expropriated without compensation.

"The intention of the proposed amendment is to strengthen the property rights of all South Africans," he said. 

He said the debate about expropriation without compensation "unleashed a wonderful process in the country".

"The question of land is not going to go away. We must transform land or property ownership in our country. That goes without saying.

"It must be underpinned by development," said Ramaphosa, adding that land reform must grow the agricultural sector. 

"We must do it (land reform) in a way that shall enhance stability in our country."

He said South Africans shouldn't be afraid of the process to change the pattern of land ownership.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said expropriation without compensation would not speed up land reform.

"The farmers' message is that they are not going to leave their land freely," he said.

Ramaphosa answered Groenewald mostly in Afrikaans. He said what needed to be achieved in South Africa was transformation, development and stability.

"If we don't have transformation, we won't have stability," he said. 

"There was a historic injustice. That wound continues to fester."