POLITICS
01/05/2018 05:34 SAST | Updated 01/05/2018 05:35 SAST

Booing, Heckling, Screaming, And Chaos. Welcome To The Land Expropriation Debate

The event spiralled out of control when ANC NEC member Ronald Lamola presented his arguments, during which he was heckled by the audience.

Black Land First (BLF) members led by Andile Mngxitama and Zanele Lwaini protest outside MiWay Insurance headquarters following an allegedly fake email scandal on July 21, 2017 in Centurion, South Africa.
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Black Land First (BLF) members led by Andile Mngxitama and Zanele Lwaini protest outside MiWay Insurance headquarters following an allegedly fake email scandal on July 21, 2017 in Centurion, South Africa.

A land debate held by Unisa in Pretoria on Monday descended into chaos when ANC supporters in attendance were forced out of the venue.

The event spiralled out of control when ANC NEC member Ronald Lamola presented his arguments, during which he was booed, heckled and interrupted by the audience. Unable to complete his speech in the allocated time, Lamola left the podium, sparking frustration among ANC supporters.

Groups of ANC supporters began chanting and dancing in the back rows of the theatre while others were seen engaging in heated arguments with supporters of other parties, such as the EFF and Black First Land First (BLF).

Opposition party supporters rallied together and forced the ANC backers from the audience, in some cases pushing them over seats and jerking them by the shirt. Lamola was offered extra time to complete his speech, but clearly frustrated by the ejection of his party's supporters, stormed out of the venue.

The debate saw a variety of speakers representing political parties including the ANC, EFF, DA, Cope and the BLF. Academics from the university also formed part of the panel that debated Parliament's recent motion to begin a process of reviewing section 25 of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

Those against land expropriation without compensation

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota was among the first to present his arguments. He slammed critics of his party's decision not to support the parliamentary motion, saying: "It's easy to call us cowards, it's easy to call us cowards when you don't know how we got here.

"Some people say our land was stolen, it is belittling us. We fought wars. You can't say it was stolen, we fought. We were up against more powerful forces, better weaponry... we were defeated. I was brought up by the ANC, and I'm still ANC by the way. Not the ANC of Zuma, but in policy," he said.

"We resolved to adopt the Constitution to heal the injustices of the past...We are not going to allow anybody to disrupt that process by causing war in this country."

The DA's Gwen Ngwenya said the state already make provisions for land expropriation.

"That expropriation is subject to just and equitable compensation. And that clause is in dispute here. The question then becomes, is just and equitable compensation a prerequisite for expropriation... and what does just, and equitable compensation actually mean... Expropriation is not in dispute. The issue here is whether that expropriation is compensated for or not," she said.

"The amount of compensation is not a salient issue in terms of the roadblocks that face land reform today...There has not been a time when government has actually put its money where its mouth is in terms of land reform... We cannot have a debate around compensation as a stumbling block when it has never in fact been prioritised in the national budget previously."

Those in support of land expropriation without compensation

While trying to disregard jeering from the audience, Lamola said the ANC has always viewed the land question as a very important means of production.

"The position of the ANC has always been very clear that the land belongs to the majority of the African people. The ANC approaches the land question to address all the past imbalances. When we address the past imbalances, you are also going to transcend this country to a truly nonracial society," he said.

"We must admit that there has been a slow pace of land reform since 1994... The ANC therefore agrees that we need to expropriate land without compensation... with clear scientific modalities. To amend the constitution is not unconstitutional. It must be used as an instrument, it must be used to help us address the past racial imbalances. All tribal land must be democratised."

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama said the "original sin is a sin of land theft".

"That makes all of us who fight for land true believers in the gospel of God. We know the amendment of the Constitution will not be the end and will not give us land. We must exhaust the constitutional process... I wish to state here categorically that... there shall be no amendment of the Constitution until next year's elections, or even after the elections," he said.

"We want all the land. All of it. We say we must challenge Parliament to amend the Constitution before the next elections. If you don't do that, we must declare you sell-outs. We must all go to the road shows of Parliament and tell them the same thing."

He then made a call for citizens to organise together and "take back the land" themselves.

"If we want the land... we get organised and go take back the land. We can't wait for Parliament."

The EFF's Gauteng provincial chairperson Mandisa Mashego, who was welcomed to the podium by a round of applause and cheering, said the process unfolding in Parliament is not ideal.

"What we want to emphasise is that we are fully aware that the process in Parliament is by far not perfect we also admit that that process is going to be subjected to the governing party that has been ruling from 1994... We are going to continue with our land occupation programme," she said.