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Whites did not get land for free‚ so if state wants the land it must pay for it - Lekota

Mosiuoa Lekota
Mosiuoa Lekota

The leader of the Congress of the People‚ Mosiuoa Lekota‚ says white people who own land in South Africa bought it. So if the government wants their land‚ it must pay for it ‚ as they did - not get it for free.

In an interview with this publication‚ Lekota explained why he believes the move to expropriate land without compensation is misplaced.

Lekota said the preamble of the Constitution clearly indicates that South Africa does not belong to a group or a certain race‚ but all who live in it.

He said the values enshrined in the Constitution are meant to redress the injustices of the past‚ but not by attempting to treat blacks as a superior race.

He rejected the view perpetuated by some political commentators that white people received land for free from the apartheid government‚ and should therefore not be compensated.

“I want to kill this myth that there are white families that were given land for free. That is not true. It was not given [to whites] for free. Never! Remember this is a capitalist society. You may have had some deals like the fraud we are experiencing in our time where government officials can be corrupt. You may have had something like that. But as a general rule‚ everybody had to buy the property that they have.

“I’m saying to you . . . go to any white family that you like. Show me a family that will not be able to show you a title deed for the land they bought. Go to the deeds office; check there‚ whether there is any property that was given free to anybody . . . This is another thing you can help the public with. Check and see if you can find that Van Rooyen‚ Van Meulen who . . . was given land free‚” Lekota said.

Since the land debate first got South Africans talking, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota has been vocal about being against the expropriation of land without compensation. According to Lekota, an injustice cannot be corrected by another injustice. In an exclusive interview, Lekota explains his reasons for not supporting the call by some political parties to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

He added that if government needs land for development‚ there is already provision in the Constitution for expropriation‚ providing the State compensates owners.

Lekota was adding his voice to the current land debate. On June 26‚ hearings into the expropriation of land without compensation kicked off in Springbok‚ Northern Cape.

The hearings were organised by the parliamentary Joint Constitutional Review Committee which is looking into possibly reviewing section 25 of the Constitution.

This comes after the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces instructed the committee to determine if reviewing this section and other clauses is necessary to enable government to expropriate land in the “public interest without compensation”.

Expanding on his position‚ Lekota said it is true that the apartheid government took land from Africans‚ but not that it was freely handed out to white people.

“People think that what happened to this land is that it went to the government and the government gave it freely to the whites‚ which is not true. It got registered in the deeds office . . . They recorded that this property which once belonged to so and so has now been taken by government. Later‚ the apartheid government made these properties available for the whites to buy. They bought it - but not all of it. They could not buy all of it. White people are just about 10% of the population. The majority of the land I am talking about is still in the hands of government.”

Going forward‚ Lekota said the fight against apartheid was meant to develop an equal society where citizens enjoy equal rights and privileges.

“What we are saying is that the Republic of South Africa is one democratic‚ sovereign state. South Africa was supposed to be a number of states . . . but . . . it is one sovereign democratic state. No more divisions.”

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