Debate on “The Escalation in Violent Crimes in South Africa and Government’s Responsibility to Protect its Citizens Lives and their Property” by Cde Mathedi Molekwa

14 November 2019

Honourable Chairperson,

Members of the House,

Fellow South Africans,

Good Afternoon.

As we debate here today, one reflects on the words of our father, uTata Nelson Mandela, who at the Tenth Anniversary of Sowetan’s Nation-building Initiative in 1998, Madiba said:

Our nation building efforts must undo the effects of three centuries and more of colonialism and racism. Many years will be needed to achieve equitable redistribution of wealth to which we aspire. But having made a good start, the challenge now is to increase the pace of delivery to further better the lives of people. We can face that challenge with confidence derived from the fact that by joining hands, South Africans have overcome problems others thought would forever haunt us. As we destroyed apartheid, so too we can defeat poverty and discrimination if we are united.”

In a debate about the escalation of violent crimes in the country and government’s responsibility to protect its citizen’s lives and their property; one may ask themselves of the relevance of speaking about land redistribution and security of tenure.

The statistics on violent crimes are in the public domain. Every day we see the instability caused by crime. Our communities are ravaged by violence and people feel unsafe. It is a cause for great concern. The National Development Plan envisions that by 2030, we will have a society where all people will feel and will be safe. With that said, it would be an impossible task to think that we will achieve Outcome 3 of the NDP if we do not disaggregate the actual causes of crime in our country.

Chairperson,

The seeds of the triple challenge which is poverty, unemployment and inequality could be traced back to the forcible dispossession of land and its mineral resources by colonialism.

 In 1923 when the first ever Bill of rights in South Africa was adopted by the ANC, we declared:

The Bantu inhabitants of the Union have, as human beings, the indisputable right to a place of abode in this land of their fathers and mothers… and

All Africans have, as the sons of this soil, the God-given right to unrestricted ownership of land in this, the land of their birth.

The promise of the Freedom Charter clearly states that The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It, that restriction of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended and all the land re-divided among those who work it. That all shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose.

In our Ready to Govern document, we said:

Dispossession and denial of rights to land have resulted in the present unequal division of land and landlessness, which will require legislative intervention far beyond the mere repeal of apartheid land laws. Our policies must provide access to land both as a productive resource and to ensure that all our citizens have a secure place to live.

Chairperson,

In our Reconstruction Development Programme (RDP) document we said, that land reform has two aspects: redistribution of residential and productive land to those who need it but cannot afford it, and restitution for those who lost land because of apartheid laws. The land redistribution programme will realise its objectives in various ways, including strengthening property rights of communities already occupying land, combining market and non-market mechanisms to provide land, and using vacant government land. We have categorically expressed our views of the need for security of tenure particularly on farms.

In our 54th National Conference we resolved that ‘Expropriation of land without compensation should be among the key mechanisms available to government to give effect to land reform and redistribution. In determining the mechanisms of implementation, we must ensure that we do not undermine future investment in the economy, or damage agricultural production and food security. Furthermore, our interventions must not cause harm to other sectors of the economy. The ANC’s approach to land reform must be based on three elements: increased security of tenure, land restitution and land redistribution.

Chairperson,

The ANC led government remains committed to the process of the amendment of the Constitution to ensure increased agricultural production, integrated human settlements in order to address apartheid spatial planning and for use to support manufacturing. The Expropriation Bill currently underway to provide for the expropriation of property for public purpose or in the public process. A Land Redistribution Bill will be introduced and the process to amend section 25 of the Constitution is also underway. The Extension of Security of Tenure Act of 1997 (ESTA) is one of the instruments available to protect one of the most vulnerable groups in our society – farmworkers. The ESTA is currently being revamped to ensure greater protection to farm dwellers and farm workers.

In the mini plenary last week, the ANC raised the importance of the twin pillars of security and economic development. In addressing the triple challenge, the land question must be addressed. Land is dignity and security.

“Beyond the immediate human suffering, lack of security and stability in our rural and farming community causes serious disruption to our economy. It threatens to bring reduced growth or production, loss of wages and profits in the time of unemployment. It brings the spectre of deepening poverty and potential social instability and upheaval.”

  • Nelson Mandela, Summit on Rural Safety and Security, 10 October 1998.