EFF vote on land central to changing constitution

EFF leader Julius Malema says that landlessness and lack of jobs 'among black people' are at crisis levels. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
EFF leader Julius Malema says that landlessness and lack of jobs 'among black people' are at crisis levels. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The EFF election manifesto has land and jobs as its central focus, with the state as the custodian of all land in the country.

The crucial question that the party has now outlined in its manifesto promises — unveiled in Soshanguve on Saturday — is whether the fledgling party will vote with the governing ANC over constitutional changes to expropriate land without compensation.

The ANC’s stance on land is markedly different from that of the EFF. The party focuses on the security of land and other property ownership rights, and will allow expropriation of land without compensation only under strict circumstances.

The EFF, on the other hand, has pushed for all land to be expropriated without compensation, and for it to be owned by the state.

The constitution can only be changed with a two-thirds majority, which the ANC will not be able to achieve on its own, according to pollsters. The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has put the ANC’s likely votes haul at about 59%. The party would therefore need the support of some of the opposition parties in parliament to pass its preferred amendments to the constitution.

The DA has stated it will oppose any amendments to the constitution that may threaten private ownership of property.

This leaves the EFF as the key to passing the ANC motion.

Party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the EFF’s intention was to eventually win the debate on its own terms. He said at this stage the constitutional amendment did not require agreement on state ownership.

"The detail of expropriation will be fought through the act dealing with how land will be distributed," Ndlozi said.

Polls released by the IRR, for instance, indicate that support for the EFF could increase from 6% in 2014 to 11% in the upcoming general elections.

The EFF played a kingmaker role in the 2016 local election, where it helped the DA wrest control of the metropolitan municipalities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay away from the ANC.

The party could again decide provincial governments in closely fought provinces such as Gauteng and the North West.

The EFF manifesto says that the party will ensure that Section 25 of the constitution is amended to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation "for equal redistribution and use" with immediate effect.

The land would be leased from the state.

EFF leader Julius Malema told the manifesto launch rally that landlessness and lack of jobs "among black people" were at crisis levels.

The party seeks to solve this problem by introducing a number of interventions aimed at reviving the economy, including tax-free special economic zones in the townships and rural areas. "Our manifesto is based on jobs, seeks to help women and young people because they are the ones who suffer the most. We are going to create jobs, open factories where our people
are," said Malema, to loud cheers from about 8,000  EFF supporters.

The EFF launched its election manifesto at Giants stadium in Soshanguve on February 2 2018. This is what EFF leader Julius Malema promised to deliver to South Africans.

On the critical question of  the Reserve Bank, the EFF maintained its position that it would nationalise the Bank and discontinue its private ownership if elected.

There has been a fierce debate in the ANC and the public discourse about the independence and mandate of the central bank, with different factions pushing either for the status quo to remain, while others called for a change in the bank’s agenda to focus on developmental issues such as job creation.

Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago recently defended the Bank’s independence, describing the debate around it as "crazy ideas" that could harm investor confidence.

The EFF said it would also allocate R100bn to a sovereign wealth fund by 2021. It also set its sights on the ownership patterns of banks and asset management companies.

Within six months of taking over the government, the party will "change their management to mainly black people, particularly Africans, so that they form the majority at all levels of management, with 50% of management being women and 10% being people living with disability", the EFF said.