Zuma Could Call For Referendum On Land Expropriation: 6 Things Every South African Must Know

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Land Expropriation Referendum: President Jacob Zuma could call for a referendum on whether the government should expropriate land without compensation.

During the opening of the policy conference on Friday‚ Zuma promised that the ruling party will have to deal with the land question within the scope of the law and the Constitution. But most of his supporters at the ongoing ANC policy are strongly pushing for a referendum on the matter.

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Zuma’s most vocal loyalists – ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini and North West ANC chairman Supra Mahumapelo, among others – have since expressed support for a referendum.

Facts You Need To Know

Zuma is empowered by the constitution to call for a referendum through an act of parliament.

In South Africa, the Constitution makes provision for either the President (in respect of a national referendum) or a premier (in respect of provincial referendum) to call for a referendum in terms of an Act of Parliament.

However, a significant weakness about this ‘style’ is that it denies citizens the opportunity to participate in executive policy decisions, particularly those that are not just.

This move would be adopted if Zuma supporters at the ANC national policy conference succeed in having their way.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, ANCWL president Dlamini Bathabile said the league will urge participants at the ongoing conference to persuade President Zuma to call for a referendum.

The Social Development Minister buttressed that as part of the land reform, they would push for a change in human settlement patterns‚ with blacks being relocated close to areas of work.

She urged people to stop implying that black people already own huge tracts of land through entities such as the Ingonyama Trust in KwaZulu-Natal. The Trust manages land parcels on behalf of the Zulu Royal family.

“We want a referendum because it will not restrict government. We are also going to talk to land researchers so that we know exactly how much was invaded. Black people were pushed to inhabitable land and we want them to now own land where there is economic development,” she pointed out.

The call for a referendum was first aired by the ANC KwaZulu-Natal.

A call for a referendum was first made by ANC KZN chairperson Sihle Zikalala in March at the provincial parliament in Pietermaritzburg. Zikalala insisted that it was only through a referendum that South Africans would have a view on how the heated debate on land should be resolved.

His idea was rejected by the EFF, NFP and IFP except for the Democratic Alliance (DA) which welcomed it gladly. The DA said at the time that public participation would bring an amicable solution to the matter. DA MPL Francois Rodgers said that a referendum will be the only means to engage with the people.

The land question has divided the ANC

When it comes to the land matter, ANC members are divided. Some members, including President Jacob Zuma, want an amendment to section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. But some structures want it the other way round.



In his contribution, President Collen Maine said the President need not a referendum on the matter. Rather he said sponsors of the referendum must go and study the resolution of Polokwane and Mangaung and what it says about the land issue.

“I don’t think we need a referendum‚ we must  What’s lacking is implementation and it’s not only on the land issue. We’ve got good policies which we are not implementing as a movement.

The comrades are advancing the position of their structures of their PGCs (Provincial General Councils). We’ve got a position as the youth league that they must implement the resolution of Mangaung. So they must persuade us and we’ll persuade them,” he said.

Zuma wants the ANC to band with the Economic Freedom Fighters in Parliament for a two-thirds majority to change the Constitution.

Though Zuma wants the ANC to team up with the Economic Freedom Fighters in Parliament on the matter, North West ANC chairman Mahumapelo said taking the matter to Parliament is a bad idea as it would be challenged in the courts.

“If it goes through the referendum, no-one can rush to court to challenge the amendment because it will have been closed; it would have been the final views of the South Africans,” he said.

Teaming with the EFF on land, do you think it would be achieved effortlessly or would the fighters push back the idea?

Most South Africans do not support the idea

Shortly after it emerged that some ANC members are pushing for a referendum, some people took to social media and criticised the idea.

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Land issue is expected to dominate discussions as delegates break into commissions to discuss economic transformation in the ongoing policy conference.

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