Kwatsaduza – Ekurhuleni metro’s move to expropriate land without compensation has drawn mixed reactions from political parties.
During a heated Ekurhuleni council sitting last Thursday, it was resolved to initiate the process of land expropriation without compensation within the metro.
Expropriation of identified land for public purpose was brought to the council. Four political parties, including the DA, Cope, FF Plus and ACDP, voted against it.
In total, 107 members of were in favour of the item and 75 against it.
The DA opposed the item, arguing it was against the Constitution. The other parties walked out of the council and did not participate in the voting.
The DA requested a roll call on the item, while Speaker of Council Patricia Kumalo called for the individual vote instead of voting as political parties.
In a statement, the DA leader in Ekurhuleni, Phillip de Lange, says the ANC used its majority to push the item through.
“This clearly shows how controversial this item is and exposed cracks within the shaky coalition.
“The DA explicitly rejects the idea of expropriation without compensation. As we are firm believers in redress, we will continue to fight for property rights for all.
“People deserve to own their homes and should not fear having these been taken away,” he says.
Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina defended the decision to expropriate land without compensation as a move to test Section 25 of the Constitution.
“It is important to note the expropriation can never be a means to an end, but it has to inherently serve a particular purpose of interest.
“We want to be at the forefront of land reform in Gauteng because we were the first to launch the Rapid Land Release Programme.
“We want to be the first metro in Gauteng to expropriate land without compensation for the purposes of human settlement,” says Masina.
“This is to ensure strict compliance with Section 25 of the Constitution. The first step was to exclude any hint of arbitrariness and unreasonableness in our action.
“The decision has been taken in order to serve the public interest.
“The city has to act immediately to deal with its housing challenges,” says Masina.
He told the council the Housing Act details responsibilities of municipalities in respect of making housing opportunities accessible.
“These rights place certain responsibilities on the metro, in respect of which land and access to housing are central.
“The Constitution enjoins the state to ensure progressive realisation of these rights.
“The city has, since its inception, been making an effort to increase access to housing by, inter alia, purchasing available land for housing purposes,” Masina says.
The metro has identified four occupied properties whose owners, it says, have relinquished their property ownership rights and responsibilities.
The metro plans to immediately develop and establish townships on these pieces of land.
The properties include:
• PTN 40 of Farm Rietfontein 63-IR, which is 4.4 hectares and privately owned.
• REM 2 Elandsfontein 90-IR, which is 101.2 hectares and privately owned.
• Remainder of Extent Benoni 77-IR, which is 205 hectares and government owned.
• PTN 406 Farm Driefontein 85-IR, which is 33.6 hectares and privately owned.
The ANC caucus welcomed the council decision, arguing the expropriation of abandoned and unused land will benefit the people of Ekurhuleni.
“This will further contribute towards our commitment to build 100 000 houses and 59 000 serviced stands by the end of this current term of office,” said ANC Chief Whip Clr Jongizizwe Dlabathi.
Dlabathi said the council has demonstrated decisiveness.