Cape Town – On Wednesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that illegal land invasions would not be tolerated by authorities.
“We will not allow land grabs…it is illegal. It begins to violate the rights of other South Africans and we will not allow the rights of others to be violated,” Ramaphosa said, who was answering questions in the National Assembly for his first Q&A session since becoming president.
Ramaphosa’s comments follow in the wake of several incidents of illegal occupation in Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Midvaal, with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) taking responsibility for most of the land grabs.
During the Q&A, leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane, asked President Ramaphosa to explain the government’s plans for the expropriation of land without compensation. Ramaphosa said no policy on land expropriation without compensation would be framed without consultation with the country’s citizens and experts.
“I have initiated a process where we will have a dialogue with a number of people and experts – both constitutional and experts on the land issue,” Ramaphosa said, who made it clear that opposition parties and citizens should contribute to the debate.
“Rather than be scared, hide your head in the sand, run away and say the ‘swart gevaar is coming’…I say come to the party. Let us discuss and find a solution,” he said.
Earlier in the week, the DA restated its opposition to land expropriation without compensation, saying the party will challenge the policy if it’s adopted in Parliament.
“What is clear is that now there is sufficient support in Parliament to substantially erode property rights from the Constitution,” Maimane said.
Ramaphosa explained that property rights are protected by the Constitution, however, the same document also gives the government the responsibility of restoring the dignity of citizens, including restoring land rights to the dispossessed.
“This is also a time where we do need to sit back and listen to the heart-wrenching stories of many South Africans whose land and assets were dispossessed of them, particularly those who have land, who have assets, what would they have us do?” the President said, who also highlighted the importance of working together throughout the process, guided by the needs of the poor in the country.