Zuma could call for referendum on land expropriation

02 July 2017 - 00:00 By MOIPONE MALEFANE, THABO MOKONE and Qaanitah Hunter
President Jacob Zuma at the ANC conference in Nasrec on 30 June 2017.
President Jacob Zuma at the ANC conference in Nasrec on 30 June 2017.
Image: Masi Losi

President Jacob Zuma could call a referendum on whether the government should expropriate land without compensation.

That is if the president’s supporters have their way at this week’s ANC national policy conference, where they are pushing for changes to the party’s current policies on land reform.

The call for a referendum, which was first mooted by the ANC in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, is expected to dominate discussions tomorrow as delegates break into commissions to discuss economic transformation.

The referendum idea has gained popularity with other pro-Zuma ANC constituencies such as the ANC Women’s League and party structures in North West province. Women’s league president Bathabile Dlamini and North West premier and ANC provincial chairman Supra Mahumapelo said the structures they led would back KwaZulu-Natal on the call for a referendum.

Zuma is empowered by the constitution to call a referendum through an act of parliament.

Mahumapelo said supporters of the proposal had decided to go this route because trying to change the constitution through parliament to allow for expropriation without compensation would not work as the ANC did not have a two-thirds majority.

“If the president calls for a referendum then he will implement in parliament what the people want. In that way no one can challenge the move in court,” said Mahumapelo yesterday.

Dlamini said they would propose that the policy conference urge Zuma to call for a referendum to settle the land issue because the constitutional property clause had time-frames on what land could be claimed back.

“It says the land can only be claimed from 1913. What about the land that was taken before 1913? It means we will claim nothing.

“We want a referendum because it will not restrict (government). We are also going to talk to land researchers so that we know exactly how much was invaded,” Dlamini said.

She said they wanted government to use land reform to change human settlement patterns too, with black people being relocated close to areas of work.

But other Zuma supporters say there is no need for a referendum. ANC Youth League president Collen Maine commented: “I don't think we need a referendum, we must go and read the resolution of Polokwane and Mangaung and what it says about the land issue.

“What’s lacking is implementation and it’s not only on the land issue. We’ve got good policies which we are not implementing as a movement,” he said.