Constitutional amendment won't address poverty issues

Farmer's Weekly|March 27, 2020

Constitutional amendment won't address poverty issues
Prof Ruth Hall of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at UWC says that the call to change Section 25 of the Constitution in an effort to allow for expropriation without compensation will not secure equitable access to land for all South Africans.
Prof Ruth Hall

"More than two years ago, Parliament passed a motion to establish the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) to look into amending the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

Public input was invited, and over 600 000 written submissions were received, with two-thirds being against any constitutional amendment. But the tone of engagements at the hearings was very different, with the vast majority of participants, mostly black South Africans, being strongly in favour of it.

The debate came down to a proxy debate about the legitimacy of our economic system and the existing property rights dispensation.

Political theatre

I first used the term ‘political theatre’ in 2013 to illustrate how these events unfolded. Then, during the centenary of the Natives Land Act, the ANC pushed for reopening land claims, in response to the EFF’s arrival on the scene and evidence that land reform was not working.

Political theatre describes the disjunction between the way things are talked about and realities on the ground. Parliamentary debates of the past two years have made it sound as if the state has been trying since 1996 to expropriate properties, but has been prevented by the courts from paying little or no compensation. Political theatre also suggests that the theatrical effect has become the prime objective.

EXPROPRIATION WITHOUT COMPENSATION

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March 27, 2020