The party leader says he aims to convince voters that ‘their problems can be resolved’ by land.
EFF leader Julius Malema discussed the party’s newly launched manifesto with Redi Tlhabi on SABC’s Unfiltered on Sunday night, accusing the ANC of attempting to backtrack from amending the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
“Today we are reading that the ANC says it is impossible to finish their amendment of the constitution before the closing of 5th parliament”, Malema said.
“That is somersaulting, they are looking for a way out because it is not their thing, they are not committed to it.”
This follows ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu telling the Sunday Times he believed the ANC would not meet the March 31 deadline to amend the constitution. Mthembu said he would advise the party to postpone the process until the next parliament is convened, a move some have criticised, suggesting that the party could be trying to buy time until the results of the 2019 elections are in.
“Their intention was to… hijack it from the EFF and make it their own thing, but they don’t have commitment,” Malema told Tlhabi.
“The land issue belongs to the EFF, even if you’re in a queue and someone is talking about land someone is going to say, ‘Who are you, EFF?’ because you can’t take it away from the EFF, it’s a synonym for the EFF.
“The ANC’s attempt to take it has backfired big time because the intention has always been for the ANC to impress and appease white minorities, and with this policy, the whites are very angry and Cyril realised he’s going to lose favour with the minorities.”
Professor Ruth Hall from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas) at the University of the Western Cape was quoted in Rapport in September, 2018, as saying that the end result of the ANC’s land process may still not be “radical” enough for the EFF, which wanted all private ownership of land in South Africa to end, and for the state to become the custodian of land.
Tlhabi then asked the EFF leader why land was such a priority for the party, as electoral polls run by “various institutions including universities” appeared to “indicate that land is very low as a priority” for voters.
“We have to reconnect the voter with the land,” was Malema’s reply. “They have lost their connection to it.”
He said the worth of the land had become “meaningless”, as “you don’t know what land can do until you own one [sic]”.
Malema said his party’s plan was to “make the voter fall in love with the land again and understand that their problems can be resolved by the land”.
“When they came in, the colonisers, the settlers, the first thing they took is the land, that’s how much they appreciated the importance of the land,” he added.
“They’ve miseducated the African people, then the African people think land is the last priority.
“People associate land with some untidiness like I don’t want to farm, I’m from a township.
“I always thought it was backwardness until I came into contact with the land and realised how important it is.”
Malema then discussed how his party’s land policy would work in practice.
The EFF intend to “amend the constitution and make the state the custodian of the land”.
He added that there would be no criteria other than being a black South African in order to receive land for farming, but that the party would implement a policy of “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” giving the land away to someone who would commit to using it for agriculture if it was not properly used.
He added that, if the EFF were to ever rule, they would appoint a land council, a land ombudsman, and a “land court of not less than ten judges”.
“Currently the land court has one judge, that’s why there is a backlog,” Malema said.
The party’s land policy has faced criticism. Deputy Minister of the department of public works, Jeremy Cronin, as well as an advisor to the department, Thando Wababa, wrote an op-ed calling the party’s policy “incoherent”, adding that they believed it “targets blacks while rewarding the wealthy”.
The DA, meanwhile, has consistently opposed expropriation without compensation and the proposed amendments to the constitution, with their former spokesperson, Thandeka Mbabama, saying in July 2018 that the parties were both lying to ordinary South Africans in telling them that their policies would lead to them owning land.
“The DA wants South Africans to be real owners of land with the right to choose, unlike the ANC and the EFF who want the state to be landlord and the people to be permanent tenants on the land,” Mbabama said at the time.