Speed up or we take the land by force
‘Extremes of inequality are behind calls for expropriation’
Drama unfolded at the land hearing at the Komani City Hall yesterday when EFF members disrupted the parliamentary review committee hearing and demanded that people outside the hall be allowed to enter.
Registration was slow, and as the hearing was about to get under way the EFF members, led by their regional leadership, stormed into the hall demanding that the doors be opened so those outside could come in.
EFF regional chairman Xhani Kani said the process would not be allowed to start until everyone who had come to participate was included. EFF national leaders intervened after Lewis Nzimande, chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee, which is gathering comment and opinion on land reform, tried to call for an end to disruptions in vain.
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu told EFF members to stop as they had negotiated with security to allow them in.
As security officials and the police were showing them to the gallery, the crowd started singing Amabhulu azizinja, isono sethu bubumnyama (The boers are dogs, our sin is that we are black).
The hearing had just started when there was a new commotion in response to a comment from the Farmers Association’s Pieter Prinsloo. He asked Black First Land First’s Vuyolwethu Mqobi: “What are you going to do with the land? Are you going to eat the land?”
As Prinsloo kept speaking, people began baying and booing so loudly his voice was drowned and he went silent.
Nzimande called on speakers not to interrupt, and to stick to the topic at hand.
Xola Nqola said he supported changing section 25 of the constitution. He wanted the state and kings to jointly administer the land.
“The government must capacitate its departments so that they capacitate the people to work the land. We call on the matter to be accelerated to before the end of the term, failing which we have not run out of ideas. We will take the land and start with Top Town [Komani’s wealthiest suburb],” he said.
Mfundo Siyo said all the land should return to the majority.
“I’m an emerging farmer from Whittlesea, where we are sharing 51ha as 48 emerging farmers while our neighbour, a white farmer, owns 208ha. We are made to be beggars in our own land. Our people are in shacks while white people have huge chunks of land,” he said.He called for section 25 to be amended so that black people were given land.
Minnie De Klerk from Aliwal North said landlessness was not the cause of poverty and inequality. “This is not an issue that can be entrusted to any government, especially ours.”
She urged the committee to put the country first and not change the constitution.
Sibongile Mbotshane said the debate was not meant to create divisions among people.
“There are white people here who are not transformed and came here to defend the brutal apartheid system,” he said.
It was an injustice that much of Komani was owned by one person, he added without naming the person, but said such extremes of inequality were behind the call for expropriation without compensation.
Michael Le Grange said: “We must get skilled people to work the land and we must get the land issue sorted so that we can go forward united.”
Makhosonke Mgweba said they were not at the hearing to massage the feelings of white people. “If this is taking time, we have other means. These white people have guts to come here and argue with us about our land. We will take it by force.”
Mpolose Mangqangwana said stolen land could not be expropriated and felt the state was playing into the hands of AfriForum.
Farmer Simon Roche said: “They [white people] are fools because their arguments won’t change the fact that the land was stolen, but there are some farms that were not stolen but bought. The whole committee, together with Floyd Shivambu sitting there, are traitors.”
Roche said the committee had chosen not to discuss bank loans and when farmers left the land they would take “their livestock, harvester, and everything that they used to farm. Instead of discussing the issues they are playing politics, all of them.”..