'Politicians must not get free land'

Cosatu general-secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
Cosatu general-secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

Politicians should not be allowed to get free land from the expropriation of land without compensation policy. Instead, the land should be given to the poor and workers.

This is one of the proposals contained in a political discussion document prepared for Cosatu's 13th national congress under way in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

Re-elected Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told Sowetan that there was fear among workers that politicians would take expropriated land for themselves.

"Politicians act as if they are fighting for the poor while they want the land for themselves," he said.

Ntshalintshali said Cosatu will debate the issue today.

"No politician should be allowed to benefit from expropriation without compensation," Cosatu says in its document.

"Farmworkers must be given secured titles for their plots, including areas to farm, livestock grazing and for burial purposes.

"Expropriation without compensation can be used to implement this protection.

"Those who work and stay on farms are subject to abuse and evictions by farmers and receive little or no support from the state. They are called derogatory words such as occupiers."

Cosatu further noted that expropriation of land must also be used to provide housing for those living in shacks.

"While communal ownership of land must be promoted, it must not be used to enrich kings or queens and to entrench patriarchy," the document reads.

Enoch Godongwana, ANC head of the national executive committee subcommittee on economic transformation, said the party was in the process of identifying beneficiaries of the land reform.

"What would be helpful is for Cosatu to help us with the selection criteria of beneficiaries," Godongwana said.

On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa told delegates at the congress that the land would be given to the poor.

Parliament's constitutional review committee has held public consultations on the amendment of section 25 of the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

The committee is expected to present its report to the National Assembly.

Cosatu wants a cap on ownership of land by foreigners.

"There is no credible data on the extent of foreign ownership of land," it said.

"Foreigners should only use land through leases and this can be changed without attracting compensation. A law on redistribution of land is needed urgently to ensure redistribution of land by taking from those with excess land [and giving] to those with little or no land at all."

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