Land restitution, YES, expropriation without compensation, NO — ACDP

ACDP MP Steve Swart.
The National Assembly passed a motion yesterday to set up an ad hoc committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation of property without compensation. One hundred and eighty three MPs supported the ANC motion and 77 voted against it. We publish a speech by ACDP MP Steve Swart arguing against the motion and calling for a restitution process which could bring about biblical justice regarding the sensitive land issue.


The ACDP appreciates that the land issue is a very sensitive and potentially divisive issue, given the history of the land dispossession in the country, particularly following the Land Act of 1913 and subsequent legislation. While we believe that justice must be done, we also strongly believe in reconciliation and nation-building. Biblical justice can be achieved through a process of restitution. It is for this reason that we support land reform and the restitution of land in an orderly and lawful manner.

The ACDP is on record [that it] does not support expropriation without compensation. We consequently do not support this motion which seeks to amend section 25 of the Constitution with undue haste and without due consideration as to the drastic implications thereof.

Written submissions ignored
For record purposes, we repeat that the Constitutional Review Committee process was fatally flawed in various respects, the most important of which is non-compliance with sections 59 and 70 of the Constitution by not considering the tens of thousands of written submissions.

It is equally important to bear in mind that the Human Rights Commission, who are the guardians of the Constitution, stated in no unequal terms, that they are not in favour of an amendment of section 25.

Former Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs, holds a similar view, stating that “far from being a barrier to radical land redistribution, the Constitution, in fact, requires and facilitates extensive and progressive programmes of land reform. It provides for constitutional and judicial control to ensure equitable access and prevent abuse. It contains no willing seller, willing buyer principle, the application of which could make expropriation unaffordable.” (Report of the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change (the Motlanthe Panel Report), p 206).

During the public hearings of the Motlanthe High Level Panel which took place over two years, many spoke scathingly about the role of state officials and politicians in land reform, describing them as vultures who steal the little people have left after decades of oppression and forced removals. They named people on camera and gave detailed descriptions of the problems they face, including the violent attacks suffered by land activists in mineral-rich areas (Business Day April 5, 2018, “Elections trump land reform as panel report is put on the back burner”). We heard similar evidence during our public hearings – yet this is disregarded.

The following statement contained in the Motlanthe Panel Report, is significant:

“But some speakers said that the government actively encourages people to blame other groups for problems that the government, in fact, has caused. Specifically, speakers pointed out that the government was trying to exacerbate racial divisions between whites and blacks, and to blame traditional leaders, when in fact government officials are themselves capturing the benefits of land restitution at the expense of claimants, and government has given some traditional leaders ‘unaccounted for powers’” (p 241).

“Implementation has been poor at every level…There has been political meddling in land restitution, both in terms of unreasonable targets for redistribution, as well as in terms of individual restitution awards, which has damaged the integrity of the process”(p 245).”

This Parliament, that has already been found to have been in breach of its constitutional oversight duties by the Constitutional Court, wants to amend the Bill of Rights, the cornerstone of the Constitution, to give more powers to an already corrupt, and inefficient government, with severe consequences for the economy, food security and agricultural development.

It is so obviously a political ploy by the ANC to regain lost votes in the run-up to the next elections.

‘Land will go to state, not people’
The ANC has repeatedly claimed that expropriation without compensation will “return” the land to “the people”. However, as the Institute for Race Relations points out in its submission (p 5), “this is fundamentally misleading. Land expropriated without compensation will be owned by the state, not by individual black South Africans. Nor will it be transferred to them thereafter, for the ANC’s policy is to keep land in state ownership. Land acquired via EWC will be held by the state as a patronage tool and used by it to deepen dependency on the ruling party. This is the fraud at the heart of the EWC idea.”

This decision shows the same reckless disregard for the people of South Africa that characterised the Zuma administration.

While ACDP remains committed to finding solutions to the land issue in the country that are informed by principles of justice, reconciliation, good stewardship (as opposed to corrupt and abusive practices), restitution and restoration, it will not support this motion.”


  1. The ACDP and Steve Swart have spoken as maestros! The truth has boldly been declared. May God be merciful to us all.

  2. Well spoken Steve Swart.

  3. Well done Steve & ACDP!
    WHEN will Africans across all political & cultural barriers learn from the LAND ISSUE MISTAKES of Zimbabwe & other African countries!
    There are practical solutions … please believe me!

  4. It boggles the mind that government would go ahead with this reckless decision of EWC. I applaud Steve Swart for speaking out so fearlessly and direct.