The Economic Freedom Fighters and Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) have joined forces in the heated debate around land expropriation without compensation in South Africa.
At a joint presser in Braamfontein on Thursday, both organisations committed to work together and host a land summit in the next few months. The presser came after what Contralesa called a “historic meeting” with the EFF leadership earlier on Thursday.
Contralesa said it agrees with the EFF that Section 25 of the Constitution must be amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation. The traditional leadership group even agreed that the state must be the custodian of the land.
However, its position is that land that is already in the hands of black people, such as tribal land overseen by chiefs and kings, must be treated differently.
Contralesa general secretary Zolani Mkiva said Contralesa backs Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s claim of tribal land that has made up part of the Zululand homeland under apartheid. “The land under administration in the Ingonyama Trust is the land under the administration of black people … it is not stolen land”, he said.
The focus of the discussion about expropriation must be on the 87% of stolen land, he said, referring to a report that 87% of privately-owned land in South Africa is in the hands of white people.
Mkiva said Contralesa asked the EFF to clarify in its position on the role of traditional leaders.
Contralesa sees the EFF as a formidable political force in the country, and that is why will continue to engage with the party, Mkiva said. “We see them as a party that is growing, that is calling the shots in certain instances, and we are forced to engage with them, whether we like it or not,” he said.
President of Contralesa Kgoshi Mokoena said the EFF had never insulted traditional leaders by calling them “village tin-pot dictators”. Former ANC president Kgalema Motlanthe said in parliament that traditional leaders controlled land like “tin-pot dictators” and called for the Ingonyama Trust Act to be repealed in his high-level panel report.
The EFF maintained its position that all land should be expropriated and put under state control. The state will then have the power to lease land to those who wish to use it. It will also have the power to take land away from those misusing it and reassign it where appropriate.
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said the party would be open to considering that the Ingonyama Trust should continue operating as is, as long as it is constitutional.
Julius Malema, Commander-in-Chief of the EFF, also said he would not allow the Ingonyama Trust to be interfered with. King Zwelithini threatened that he would re-establish a sovereign Zulu homeland should government not bow to his concerns about the land.
Malema said the Ingonyama Trust rally that took place on Wednesday should be considered as a response to the robust democratic debate that is taking place in South Africa about the land.
The CIC also asked: “Why must it be a problem when the king speaks?” Malema said he had heard worse sentiments from the land-owning Boers who would would shed blood if their land was threatened. “We have actually heard worse because we have some people threaten to kill us if we touch their land,” he said.
Malema also said he was yet to meet a white person – even a poor white person – who agreed with expropriation without compensation. All white people are concerned that land expropriation without compensation would destroy the economy, he said.
South Africa would not go the Zimbabwe route as far as land expropriation was concerned, Malema said. The land reform process in this country is happening in a consultative, constructive manner.
Both said they will continue to meet with each other and other progressive forces ahead of the 2019 elections.