Speech by Dave Steward, Executive Director of the FW de Klerk Foundation, Moreesburg, 7 September 2012

by Dave Steward
Posted 7 September 2012

SPEECH BY DAVE STEWARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FW DE KLERK FOUNDATION, MOREESBURG, 7 SEPTEMBER 2012

"THE 1994 CONSTITUTION AND THE GREEN PAPER"

My objective this morning is to consider the manner in which the interim Constitution of 1993 and the final Constitution of 1996 address property rights and land reform - and the degree to which the Green Paper on Land Reform complies with the requirements of the Constitution.

There can be no doubt that comprehensive land reform has consistently been one of the central goals of the ANC’s National Democratic Revolution. The Freedom Charter calls for the land to be shared by those who work it.

More than this: the question of land ownership is one of the emotional mainsprings in the ANC’s historic world-view:

  • The Draft Policy on the 2007 Expropriation Bill commenced with an analysis of white deprivation of black land, beginning with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in the Cape in 1652. It quotes Autshumato’s question to Jan van Riebeeck: “if the country is too small, who has the greater right, the true owner or the foreign intruder?”
  • It is clear also from the Green Paper on Land Reform that despite 360 years history in South Africa, whites are still regarded as “foreign intruders.”  According to the Minister of Land Reform and Rural Development, Mr Gugile Nkwinti, “all anti-colonial struggles are at the core about two things, repossession of lost land and restoring the centrality of indigenous culture. Fundamental land reforms were therefore a key catalyst in the ANC’s mission to resolve inherited race and class contradictions”.
  • Indeed, ownership of the land is regarded by the Green Paper as being so pivotal, that it affects the national sovereignty: “...the debate about agrarian change, land reform and rural development” should begin with national sovereignty - since national sovereignty is defined in terms of land.

The implication is that national sovereignty will not be restored until a sufficient amount of land has been repossessed by black South Africans. In the Green Paper’s view this ‘fundamental assumption’ should supersede all other considerations, including “talk of effective land reform and food sovereignty and security.”

  • This fundamental assumption is, however, profoundly unconstitutional since it implies that whites and others who do not belong to the ‘indigenous culture’ are peripheral - and actually are not part of the national sovereignty.

It was factors such as these that informed the approach that the ANC adopted to land reform and property rights during the constitutional negotiations.

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