Tensions boil over on land reform issue

Cyril Ramaphosa addresses delegates at the 54th ANC Elective Conference for the first time as the Picture: Masi Losi

The ANC has adopted a resolution calling for the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and land expropriation without compensation.

It has set no timeline to acquire all shares in the bank or change the constitution to trigger nationalisation, which would see the government owning 100% of the bank’s shares instead of the existing arrangement where these are held by a number of private shareholders.

In his maiden address at the close of the ANC’s elective conference, new ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa said they would manage the land process very carefully and with great care.

“The conference resolved that we do not undermine the economy, the production and food security in our country.”

Before Ramaphosa spoke, new ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said that out of the disputed 63 votes, only 17 were valid and would not have any material effect on the outcome of the top six election.

Ramaphosa, who had earlier called on the party to respect the results of the voting, said: “We must focus afresh on the task of building a non-racial country, guided by the injunction in the Freedom Charter that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.”

On the issue of corruption, he said it “has to be stopped and it must happen with immediate effect”.

He told the delegates: “Those deployed by our movement should always be a source of pride, not a source of embarrassment.”

The contentious issue of land reform nearly brought delegates to blows.

The ANC’s commission on economic transformation has agreed the party must initiate proceedings to amend the constitution to include land expropriation without compensation, but added the caveat that it must be sustainable.

This followed a rowdy debate which resulted in a scuffle that saw some delegates ejected from the plenary.

An argument on whether the party should resolve to expropriate land with or without compensation saw discussions on the issue degenerate into a screaming and shouting match.

Sources said tense discussions about the matter had seen delegates on either side of the argument starting to push each other around.

Marshals and members of the security detail were called and some delegates were removed.

On the Reserve Bank, the party has now mandated the government to develop a proposal to ensure full public ownership in a way that “does not benefit private shareholder speculators”. Delegates repeated a view held at the policy conference that it was a historic anomaly that there were private shareholders of the Reserve Bank.

The SARB spoke out against the proposal when it was discussed at the ANC’s policy conference in June‚ saying the bank’s private shareholding structure had no bearing on its monetary policy stance or the regulatory role it played in the banking sector and in the broader economy.

The bank also suffered some political pressure when public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane recommended that the constitution be amended to change its mandate – a recommendation the bank has contested in court.

On the roles of state-owned firms in the economy‚ it was resolved that only skilled and qualified people should be appointed to lead state-owned enterprises.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said firm action was required to improve the governance and performance of parastatals by ensuring the appointment of skilled staff and qualified board members.

The party also resolved that stateowned companies must be protected from improper influence.

Exposés on state capture revealed details of how the Gupta family had got improper control of state-owned companies through proxies in senior positions in the executives and boards.

Party delegates agreed that the Treasury must develop a wealth tax that might be in the form of a land tax in an effort to promote equity and raise the revenue in the state coffers.

They had also resolved that to deal with the high levels of concentration of ownership in many sectors of the economy‚ the penalties for uncompetitive behaviour must be increased‚ sources said.

The plenary also heard that the competition commission needed to be strengthened with additional resources.

The conference has resolved that President Jacob Zuma should immediately appoint the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture as recommended by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

This puts more pressure on him to appoint the commission after a court ruling that ordered him on Wednesday last week to do so within 30 days.

This is a blow for Zuma, who wants to appeal against the court ruling. – Additional reporting by Neo Goba, Reuters

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