Access to land and land reform is an emotive issue in South Africa, where white farmers still own vast tracks of land, while black people are clamouring for its redistribution.
So when comments emerge from the ruling ANC’s Youth League saying land invasions are “inevitable” it gets organised agriculture and the ruling party worried.
“If they don’t want to see angry black youths flooding their farms they must come to the party.
“Whites must volunteer some of the land and mines they own,” the youth league’s Ronald Lamola said, warning of Zimbabwe style land invasions.
Lamola was speaking on Tuesday at the end of a youth league policy workshop held in preparation for the ANC policy conference-taking place at the end of this month.
The league’s deputy president also called for changes to the constitution to allow the state to appropriate land.
“We must be unapologetic about this. We need to change sections of the constitution to bring about the changes we need,” Lamola said .
The ANC has quickly stepped in, dimissing the youth league’s call on Wednesday, with the party’s general secretary, Gwede Mantashe saying: “This is not the policy of the ANC”.
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“If the youth league wants to engage on this issue they can do so at the policy conference at the end of the month,” Mantashe said.
“It is not the ANC policy to expropriate land without compensation and personally I don’t think it will work.”
He said the party was engaging both established and emerging farmers to help create a successful agricultural environment in the country.
In the meantime, the civil rights body Afriforum says it would head to the Equality Court as it deemed Lamola’s comments to be hate speech.
The South African government and ruling ANC has admitted that land reform has been slow since it gained power in 1994. However, the country’s constitution is clear that all land must be paid for rather than expropriated.
Section 25 of the constitution “says property may be expropriated subject to compensation as “agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court”.
According to the Mail and Guardian, the Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti indicated government had only achieved just over a quarter of its target to redistribute 30 percent of South Africa’s agricultural land by 2014.
A land reform analyst, Professor Ben Cousins, also said the land reform process is in “deep trouble” in South Africa.
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