Speaking Parliament on Thursday (9 March) deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa talked around president Jacob Zuma’s recent call for the constitution to be changed to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
Speaking at an address to the National House of Traditional Leaders in early March, Zuma said that the “hunger for land” in South Africa is real, and that the current constitutional processes around land redistribution is not enough.
He said that the constitution should be changed to allow for the government to take land without compensating current owners.
Zuma’s comments came just days after the ANC caucus in Parliament shot down a proposal from the Economic Freedom Fighters to do just that, with ANC chief whip, Jackson Mthembu saying that land redistribution without compensation is not ANC policy.
Addressing Ramaphosa in Parliament on Thursday (9 March), the EFF asked the deputy president for a simple yes or no answer as to whether the policy of land redistribution without compensation was supported by the ANC or no – but the deputy president could not give a straight answer.
“The issue of land is very important,” Ramaphosa said. “There was a a great injustice done to the black majority, that goes without saying. All of us have experienced it.”
Ramaphosa said that Zuma’s comments were him “speaking from a deep-seated pain that is felt by all black people in this country”.
“In dealing with this pain, we have to deal with this injustice. And dealing with this injustice, we must find a solution,” the deputy president said.
He said that there were many ways to go about finding a solution – and that changing the constitution is one of those strategies.
“But dealing with what is already written in the constitution is another solution,” he said.
Ramaphosa then turned his response into a critique of the EFF’s approach to get the ANC to vote with it, to push their specific agenda.
“You don’t feel the pain of the land issue more than anyone else sitting on this side (in the ANC),” he said. “Let me promise you one thing – the commitment from the ANC is so deep and so thorough, that we will solve this problem.”
When asked by the DA how the ANC was dealing with Zuma’s comments, which were seen as divisive, Ramaphosa again talked around the matter.
The deputy president said that the ANC – and a few parties in the opposition benches – were “progressive” and calling for radical change – but parties like the DA were more conservative, and these were not who president Zuma was addressing.
‘That is the only line of divide here,” he said.