Land reform is no place for shacks
Expropriation of land without compensation will promote a mikhukhu – “shack” – mentality that will just create more slums and widen the playground for celebrity politicians who only recently discovered their relevance 24 years after South Africa became a democracy.
We are sitting on a time bomb and it is unfortunate that this unresolved land issue after 24 years of political “independence” could provide an opportunity for self-appointed and questionable community leaders, anarchists and charlatans to exploit the situation.
We are already seeing brothers pitted against brothers in communities in Gauteng, and in areas such as Marimba Gardens in Vosloorus, Protea Glen in Soweto and Mahube Valley in Mamelodi.
I sympathise with those who own private and bonded properties within the areas where land grabs are encouraged by some community and political party leaders. It is only a matter of time before land grabs develops into anarchy.
It is unfortunate that some political party leaders encouraging land grabs are promoting this anarchy, knowing very well that where they reside there is no possibility of land grabs. They also enjoy 24-hour personal security and stay behind walls with electric fences.
Their actions are misleading and disingenuous.
The position taken by the Azanian People’s Organisation on the return of the land to its rightful owners is captured in our Constitution preamble, objectives and subsequent adopted policies on land.
There is no contradiction in our desire to take back the land for fair and equitable distribution among Azanians.
It is just regrettable that it has taken this country 24 years to take the expropriation and redistribution of the land seriously.
Expropriation of land without compensation implies that the state will take the land for public use or benefit only from “land owner(s)” who do not want to cooperate with the state’s land redistribution programme.
I choose to remain an optimistic man and believe that those who own massive tracts of land that lies fallow will comply with the initiated constitutional and legal process that seeks to allocate the land to the landless majority.
We must be careful not to confine our land redistribution and expropriation programme for residential purposes only.
We still need land for roads, factories, agriculture, recreation, education, waste management plants and other infrastructure purposes.
Whatever we do as part of the effort to redistribute and expropriate the land, we must always be conscious of the fact that the land cannot be reproduced or multiplied. Therefore, we must use it wisely for the benefit of future generations and focus less on short-term and often selfish political gains.
The action to redistribute and/or expropriate land is the responsibility of the state and not individuals.
In the process it will be critical for the state to ensure that land is redistributed and transferred to bona fide South Africans.
If the constitutional and legal process is not followed to the letter, we may find ourselves having to deal with land that is owned by some naturalised South Africans and foreign nationals in some places, perpetuating skewed land ownership and unintended tension.
I believe the governing party must take full responsibility for its failure to address this emotional and sensitive land question adequately.
Any redistribution and expropriation of land that promotes a mikhukhu mentality must be rejected because it will just create more slums.
More slums will not help us to restore the dignity of our people and complete the unfinished liberation struggle; it will perpetuate more squalor and disease for our people.
Land has always been the basis of our liberation struggle. For us to restore the dignity of our people and complete the unfulfilled liberation promises we need to take control of our economy and expedite the return of the land to the landless majority.
- Mogotsi is a member of the Azanian People’s Organisation committee on publicity and information