The overemphasis on compensation in the debate on land reform removes focus from the work that needs to be done for redistribution to take place, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi told the ad hoc committee to amend section 25 of the Constitution.
The committee listened to experts on Friday, as it did the week before, whereafter it will draw up a policy document to be presented to the National Assembly on March 19, the day before the Fifth Parliament rises.
Ngcukaitobi said Parliament failed to implement section 25 (5) and (6) of the Constitution, which requires legislation to make land redistribution possible.
He said he couldn’t understand why Parliament hadn’t been taken to court for failing to draft such legislation.
He said while the ANC’s focus initially was on land redistribution, the focus shifted to land restitution.
“We must now accept restitution could not help us achieve land reform,” he said.
“Restitution is about the past, while redistribution is about the future.”
No need for amendment
He said the Constitution doesn’t have to be amended for land to be expropriated without compensation.
“What we need to do, is implement it,” he said, adding that he gave up on the debate, as the decision to amend the Constitution has been taken.
He said there was a need to think creatively about land reform, and to think of it “beyond the mantra of expropriation without compensation”.
He said where redistribution had taken place, it had benefitted elites, when it should benefit people who need land.
Advocate Wim Trengove also addressed the committee and said it was safe to assume that white ownership of land was the result of privilege, and therefore the burden to prove the historical landownership rests on white people where it is unclear who originally owned the land.
Like Ngcukaitobi, he said section 25 doesn’t need to be amended, but that there needs to be political will to implement redistribution.