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Malema in hot water for land occupation call

Malema in hot water for land occupation call.
Malema in hot water for land occupation call.
Image: Alon Skuy

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema may be in hot water with Parliament after calling on landless people to occupy unoccupied land without permission.

Malema made the call during the debate in the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa tabled his first budget policy statement as president.

Malema argued that Ramaphosa had failed to fulfil the string of promises he had made in his state of the nation address in February‚ including the expropriation of land without compensation‚ an EFF call supported by the ANC in Parliament.

Malema claimed that Ramaphosa was "wishy-washy" on land. "It's clear you are not going to expropriate land without compensation. We had issued an instruction in the EFF to scale down on occupation of land because we wanted to give you time‚ and since you are no longer clear‚ we have made a call and we are making it again here that the people must occupy the unoccupied land‚" he said‚ arguing that the people owned the land and that the ANC wasn't keen to give them the land.

He also charged that Ramaphosa's appointment of Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as Land Reform Minister was a signal that he wasn't serious about land. "She knows nothing about land and half the time she is sleeping..."

The deputy speaker of the National Assembly‚ Lechesa Tsenoli‚ took issue with Malema's call for illegal occupation of land and said he would refer it to Speaker Baleka Mbete to take action against the EFF firebrand.

Malema was unrepentant and was joined by his colleagues from the EFF who‚ rising on points of order‚ repeated the call for land occupation. This degenerated into a fracas with EFF MPs chanting "occupy land" and later leaving the house at Tsenoli's instruction and after he called for them to be removed.

Malema had earlier criticised Ramaphosa for failing to deliver a job summit and investment conference that he had promised in his Sona speech. "You promised a job summit in the next few months‚ nothing has happened despite growing calls from within the ANC and outside the ANC particularly that young people remain unemployed in our country. When you came here you created an impression that it would be done as soon as possible."

Malema also slammed Ramaphosa's appointment of investment envoys whose role it is to attract direct foreign investment‚ saying this looked like the regrouping of the so-called 1996 class project.

"It is clear we are going back to the 1996 policies that have not worked for our country and you know very well the whole world says you can't grow the economy with foreign direct investment only‚ you have to stimulate local investment that is led by the state‚ but we don't see that from you."

Malema also touched on the issue of a bloated national executive and urged Ramaphosa to "save us money" by getting rid of some ministries and redirecting that money to the needy departments.

"If you do so by removing some of your colleagues particularly those who supported you‚ that will be a show of character that you are not in it for factional reasons‚ but are in it to build a capable state which would deliver with a sizeable‚ manageable team‚" he said.

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