Yesterday afternoon, 14 March 2018, President Ramaphosa answered questions from members of parliament during his first quarterly question and answer session since being sworn in a month ago. One of the key topics was to do with the much-talked-about issue of land expropriation, with or without compensation.
In his responses to questions, President Ramaphosa stressed several key points:
- Government is committed to working with the people of SA to find solutions for land reform
- These solutions will come about through a consultation process, in a responsible manner and with good dialogue
- The restitution will come about through proper constitutional and legal methods
- The rule of law will be adhered to, and human rights will not be violated – of all South Africans
- Land invasions and land grabbing are not allowed and will not be tolerated as it is illegal and unconstitutional
- Much of the land that will be redistributed is either government-owned already, has absentee landlords, is unused or lies fallow and could be put to better use through redistribution
- The land that is expropriated must be used to contribute towards the growth of the economy and to improve food security
President Ramaphosa stressed that the constitution and rule of law are still fundamental to addressing all issues within South Africa, including the one of land. Specifically, there are two clauses in the constitution, within Chapter 2, being the Bill of Rights, that have a direct bearing on this topic:
(1) No one may be deprived of property except in terms of law of general application, and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property.
(2) Property may be expropriated only in terms of law of general application—
(a) for a public purpose or in the public interest; and
(b) subject to compensation, the amount of which and the time and manner of payment of which have either been agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court.
(1) Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing.
(2) The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
(3) No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.
Finally, the President’s responses to the questions posed and his repeated expression of commitment to the implementation of fair, just and lawful land expropriation, coupled with the fact that the land in question is just that – land rather than housing – make it unlikely, in our opinion, that anyone within South Africa is facing the prospect of having their real estate forcibly taken from them and given to someone else. Above all President Ramaphosa stressed that the people of South Africa should not panic or be anxious – it is a time to talk and find solutions.