Land invasion is not going to stop‚ warns analyst

26 March 2018 - 12:52 By Penwell Dlamini
A protest for the occupation of more land in what residents called an illegal land invasion in Lenasia, Johannesburg on April 25, 2016. The land debate has recently again stirred up emotions among both black and white.
A protest for the occupation of more land in what residents called an illegal land invasion in Lenasia, Johannesburg on April 25, 2016. The land debate has recently again stirred up emotions among both black and white.
Image: Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy

Political analyst Dumisani Hlophe has warned that land invasion - which is becoming a growing problem for municipalities across the country - is not going to stop‚ as people on the ground feel politicians have deviated from their mandate to restore dignity to destitute people.

There have been numerous occurrences of land invasion‚ particularly in Gauteng‚ and the cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane have been trying their best to stop people from illegally building shacks in unoccupied land.

While the mayors of the two cities have condemned land invasion‚ even getting support from President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ the act of illegally occupying land is far from over‚ said Hlophe.

“This thing is going to continue. It is going to gain momentum. Part of the problem is the irony of our situation. For decades‚ people have fought for liberation but at the point of liberation‚ then they lose all control of that struggle. Redistribution of land in this country is now defined by the liberal political elite. The struggle for land is not progressing on the basis of what those who have fought for democracy over a long time want.

“In other words‚ the struggle for land redistribution has been left out by the political leadership that comes from the liberation background. Because they have abandoned it‚ the masses are filling in that gap‚” Hlophe said.

Land invasion has also hit other provinces.

In the Western Cape‚ police reinforcements were monitoring a “tense” atmosphere on Monday after an attempted land invasion was halted at Hermanus. At least 25 people were arrested in the town on the southern Cape coast after scores of people marked out plots on vacant land.

GroundUp also reported that here was land invasion in Du Noon‚ a township situated in Milnerton‚ Cape Town. On February 27‚ a motion for land expropriation without compensation in the National Assembly was passed with a majority vote.

The matter was referred to the Constitutional Review Committee‚ which must report back to Parliament by August 30. The Economic Freedom Fighters had proposed that an ad hoc committee be established to review and amend Section 25 of the Constitution to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest‚ without compensation.

Section 25 of the Constitution – known as the property clause - states the government must make laws and take other steps to help people or communities to get land to live on‚ and to claim back land if they lost it after 1913 and because of apartheid laws. While parliamentary processes continue‚ it is the cities which are faced with the rise in land invasion.

Hlophe explained how he sees the land issue unfold going forward.

“What is going to happen is that you will find black people against black people in the struggle for land. One [group] because of their need to survive‚ pushing for the struggle for land‚ the other group because of newfound economic elite status in society‚ they will be defending the status quo‚ calling for calm‚ order and all that kind of stuff.

“The masses will continue to use their usual mode of attaining their own liberation. They will continue to go into this land which is empty and unused. They will not necessary follow procedure and all of that… Because for them it is an urgent matter. It is a matter of life and death. For them it is a survival mode‚” he said.

Hlophe said even using the police to stop illegal occupation of land will not help as there are limited resources to do this. He said the “uprising” on the land issue will continue until government decides to act with speed and realise the rights of people that need land for survival.

Hlophe did not rule out a possibility that some people could manipulate this uprising for their own political careers.

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