Failure by the ANC to muster the mandatory two-thirds majority required by the Constitution to pass the 18th Constitution Amendment Bill, which would have resulted in the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation, is a victory for South Africa’s Constitutional order.
Consistent with our committee vote in September, where DA members represented in the Section 25 Ad-Hoc Committee voted in unison to reject the ANC’s motion to adopt Bill, today the DA caucus in the National Assembly spoke in one voice and voted to reject this disastrous piece of legislation.
This outcome was a culmination of 3 wasted years in which Parliament was made to process a Bill where alarms had been raised about its grave impact on the economy, the rule of law and food security. The ANC knew about these dangers hence their steadfast refusal to allow for an Economic Impact Assessment to be conducted.
We have long argued against the need to amend Section 25 of the Constitution because, in its current form, it already has enough provisions to enable a just and equitable land reform process.
Since its formation on 6 December 2018, the Section 25 Ad-Hoc Committee was just a political theatre for warring ANC factions and the radical fantasies of the EFF. In their hurried attempt to pursue expropriation of land without compensation and nationalisation of land, the two parties exposed their disdain for the Constitution and inalienable property rights of all South Africans.
The DA has always argued that this Bill should never have been brought to Parliament as it does nothing to help landless South Africans who have been let down by the ANC’s failing land reform programme.
If anything, the ANC and the EFF wasted time on a process that was never going to address the land question for landless South Africans. For all the years that the committee has spent trying to take away the property rights of South Africans and nationalise all land, focus should rather have been on opening access to state land, improving tenure security and providing support to emerging farmers.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s repeated claim that Section 25 of the Constitution could be amended without affecting the economy and food security, was misleading. In Venezuela and Zimbabwe, tempering with property rights collapsed their economies, led to widespread hunger and resulted in wholesale capital flight.
What South Africa needs is a pragmatic and rational approach that will operate within the confines of current constitutional provisions on land reform. Nationalisation of land and the exclusion of the courts from adjudicating land expropriation cases, as proposed by the ANC and the EFF, would have undermined the rule of law and reduced South Africa to an economic wasteland.