Land claim dilemma for Indians
Referring to the Indian community, Lekota asked what would happen to the land that the descendants of indentured labourers had inherited from their great-grandparents.
Dispossessing them of land or property their great-grandparents had worked hard to buy was “not acceptable”, he said.
“These people were brought here from India under bondage to grow sugar cane on the hills of KwaZulu-Natal. When they had the option of returning to India, many chose to stay because they had jobs here. They saved money and bought land.
“My question is: will their land be taken when they were not involved in wars between whites and Africans over land?”
Lekota said the ANC’s call for land redistribution without compensation was unconstitutional and contravened the Bill of Rights.
He argued this during this week’s State of the Nation debate and questioned President Cyril Ramaphosa on who the likely beneficiaries of land would be.
He cited section 25 of the constitution as stating that no person may be deprived of their property and that where expropriation took place, it fell under the law of general application.
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi heckled Lekota, asking how much he had been paid by “fascists from the National Party” to make such an utterance.
Lekota replied he was no “sell-out” but was defending values held by Struggle stalwarts such as Chief Albert Luthuli and ZK Matthews.
He said he had been an ANC member when the constitution was adopted and it should not be violated.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said Lekota’s argument was valid because land expropriation would be a difficult task with many technicalities that needed thorough engagement between politicians and the public.
He said rhetoric over land expropriation without compensation often came down to populist politics and political grand-standing.
The Minority Front, which has a firm Indian support base, supported Lekota’s comments.
Spokesperson Jonathan Annipen said land expropriation without compensation was unconstitutional and Lekota’s remarks would open space for dialogue.
“The Indian community worked hard to develop land and purchase property.
“The Group Areas Act displaced many, robbing them of this prime property. This policy has the potential to further disenfranchise an already sidelined community,” he said.
Annipen praised the validity of Lekota’s question of “who is our people and who is not”.
The DA had not responded to a request for comment by the time of going to print, while IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the party supported expropriation but with compensation.