The African National Congress’ two-day NEC Lekgotla in Tshwane focused on a number of issues, including the current status of our economy, job creation and land reform. It further engaged on issues of governance, social development and broader transformation.
We thought that it was important for the President of the ANC to clearly and unambiguously articulate the position of the organisation on two matters that are critical to the economic development of our country and the well-being of its people. The first is the implementation of the ANC’s resolution on land reform. The second is about the current economic environment.
On land reform, the ANC applauds our people, from all walks of life – including the rural poor, farm labourers, the unemployed, the landless, urban residents, farmers and traditional leaders – for expressing their views on this critical matter. Our people have been expressing their views on the land question openly and without any fear or favour. They have been putting forward solutions on how the land question can be resolved. This is the constitutional democracy that we fought for.
The ANC reaffirms its position that the Constitution is a mandate for radical transformation both of society and the economy. A proper reading of the Constitution on the property clause enables the state to effect expropriation of land with just and equitable compensation and also expropriation without compensation in the public interest.
It has become patently clear that our people want the Constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings. There is also a growing body of opinion, by a number of South Africans, that the constitution as it stands does not impede expropriation of land without compensation.
The lekgotla reaffirmed its position that a comprehensive land reform programme that enables equitable access to land will unlock economic growth, by bringing more land in South Africa to full use, and enable the productive participation of millions more South Africans in the economy.
Accordingly, the ANC will, through the parliamentary process, finalise a proposed amendment to the Constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected. The intention of this proposed amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development, increase agricultural production and food security. It will also transform the unjust spatial realities in urban areas.
To accelerate agrarian reform, the ANC has further directed government to urgently initiate farmer support programmes in depressed areas before the first rains this year. This should include supporting farmers with tools, tractors, fertilisers, seeds, extension services, finance and access to key infrastructure.
Our economy is facing serious challenges. The recently released figures on unemployment are worrying. Given this economic environment, the Lekgotla directed government to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite growth that will lead to the creation of jobs, especially for young people and women. These efforts should focus on rural communities and townships.
This stimulus package will be based on existing budgetary resources and the pursuit of new investments while remaining committed to fiscal prudence. It will comprise, amongst others, of the following:
* Increased investment in public infrastructure.
* Increased support for entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for youth and women, as well as small and medium businesses.
* Trade support measures for sectors such as sugar and products affected by big import surges
* Ensure that procurement focuses on localization
* Training for unemployed young South Africans with the skills necessary to compete in a rapidly-changing economy.
As deployees of the ANC in government, we have committed that the work to develop this stimulus should start now to ignite growth, tackle unemployment and mitigate the effects of the rising cost of living.
We call on all South Africans to work with us in developing a social compact for economic inclusion, economic growth and jobs for all.
By Cyril Ramaphosa
President of the Republic of South Africa.