DA and ANC members of the Western Cape legislature went head-to-head during a debate on land expropriation without compensation on Thursday.
DA MPL Beverley Schäfer, having tabled the subject, opened the debate, leading with the recent findings of the high-level panel report commissioned by Parliament.
“Experts advise that the need to pay compensation has not been the most serious constraint on land reform in South Africa to date,” Schäfer read out.
“Other constraints include increasing corruption, the diversion of the budget to elites, lack of political will and lack of training and capacity,” she said to jeers from opposition MPLs.
She asked why the “populists” in the ANC immediately pushed for expropriation without compensation at its elective conference in December, when Parliament’s own high-level report “clearly” pointed to governance failures and corruption in the ANC national government.
“The reality is that by 2014, the ANC had spent a combined R69bn on land reform and redistribution with only a dismal 9% success rate to show for it,” she charged.
The ANC was “desperate” for a populist deflection tactic, she claimed, and has had every chance, but failed, to build a capable state.
‘You want to protect property developers’
ANC MPL Sharon Davids hit back at Schäfer and the DA, accusing the provincial governing party of trying to protect the property rights of the white minority in the province.
“It is clear that the DA’s opposition is only to protect the unused pockets of land inside the city, reserved for big property developments,” Davids charged during her speech.
“It’s for the rights of developers’ interests. For you it’s only about investment, investment, investment, without the humanity.”
Davids defended her party’s adoption of land expropriation without compensation at its conference last year, saying the process “would be legal”.
She had full confidence that the ANC would finalise the Expropriation Bill with criteria that some instances of no compensation would still be “just and equitable”.
‘EFF looking for votes’
Western Cape MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela backed up his colleague Schäfer’s stance, saying the decision to amend the property clause in the Constitution wouldn’t solve anything.
“Amending section 25 will not expedite land reform in South Africa,” Madikizela declared.
“It’s nothing but a populist posture by the EFF, wanting to increase its outcomes in the 2019 elections.”
Not wanting to be outdone by the EFF, the ANC followed suit, he charged.
The failing willing-seller, willing-buyer model – which was not in the Constitution – was ultimately ANC policy, and represented its own failings, he said.
‘Do you own your own home?’
The EFF’s sole MPL in the legislature, Bernard Joseph, said historically, the Western Cape was “notorious” for land grabs by white people.
Indigenous people and even lighter-skinned locals were massively affected by “genocide”, and a massive redevelopment programme had to be initiated, he said.
“The return of the land to its rightful owners will go a long way to bring back dignity to our once proud people,” he said.
The state should provide the implements to use the land productively, he said repeating his party’s stance.
MEC Alan Winde then interrupted to ask a question. “I just want to know if you own your home, or you lease it from the government?”
Joseph ignored him: “The DA must stop telling lies about property rights, redistribution and section 25.”
“Where do you live?” DA MPLs shouted back.
ANC MPL Richard Dyantyi claimed there was “one white man” who owned a single farm that stretched from Malmesbury to Citrusdal.
He accused the DA of wanting to keep those conditions “untouched” for “mostly white farm owners”.
‘De Lille going nowhere’
He also claimed the DA wanted to get rid of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille to protect “apartheid spacial planning”.
“You have no idea what to do with Patricia de Lille. She is going to survive again. She will stay whether you like it or not.”
DA MPL Masizole Mnqasela rounded out the debate in the “sweeper” role.
He slammed Dyantyi’s “unsubstantiated claim” about the single farm in Malmesbury.
“Many people own farms there. You need to hire proper researchers. What happened to the ANC? You can’t debate.”
Ultimately the DA knew better, because it was the only party that “cared about white people, cared about black people, cared about coloured people”, he claimed.
He finished with a smile as colleagues congratulated him.
The House then moved on to other business, with many MPLs filtering out from their seats, finished for the day.