In the previous edition of Radical Voice, we illustrated with cogent evidence how the local state’s incapacity to address joblessness contributes to high levels of poverty in South Africa, and provided some of the innovative solutions contained in the EFF Local Government Elections manifesto. Our parting remark in that edition was that “EFF Municipalities will take Land and give to the people and that is what we will focus on in the next edition of the Radical Voice”. We therefore are going to argue here that LANDLESSNESS is THE major reason why the black majority and Africans in particular live in absolute poverty, and how EFF Municipalities will use the Municipal planning function to abolish landlessness.
Landlessness in South Africa is a result of colonial dispossession and black genocide committed by the White Settlers whose descendants continue to occupy and own the land today. This is the land that was forcefully take from black people by white Settlers even before the enactment of the 1913 Land Act which was means to legitimate and intensify land dispossession. That the descendants of Colonial Murderers, Barterers, and Robbers continue to occupy, use and benefit from illegally and illegitimately acquired land is not in dispute amongst sensible and rational South Africans. What is in dispute is the manner in which this illegally and illegitimately acquired land should be transferred to the ownership and for the benefit of the people as a whole.
Reactionary reformists have adopted a programme that says the limited resources at the State’s disposal must be used to buy stolen land, even when such land is needed for public purposes and interests. The Economic Freedom Fighters is the only significant political movement which has a commitment to take back the land without compensation and give to the people equitably. The EFF is not ashamed of and will never retreat from this commitment because buying illegally acquired property is a criminal offence and we will never be party to criminal activities. What this means is that when we are government in any Municipality, we will allocate all available land to the people for residential, industrial, religious and recreational purposes, and no one will stop the EFF from doing so.
Without being narrowly legalistic, we should state here that Section 151 (4) of the Constitution of South Africa says, “The national or provincial government may not compromise or impede a municipality’s ability or right to exercise its powers or perform its functions”. The many functions of a Municipality include the reality that a municipality is responsible for municipal planning, industrial promotions, local sport facilities, cemeteries, and many other services that require land. It is therefore logical that when the Constitution assigned these tasks, it also gave the municipality a degree of powers to allocate land for all these purposes. It would be irrational and illogical to assign the powers of municipal planning and many other land dependent functions to municipalities without giving this sphere of government powers to allocate land because these functions do not happen in the sky.
National and Provincial Legislations and functions are not constitutionally allowed to trump over or bulldoze the zoning and land use functions of the Municipality because the function of Municipal planning is an exclusive function of a Municipality. There already exists Constitutional Court judgments that re-affirm the powers of the municipality on land use and allocation, even when such halts a provincial or national function. The first one is the case of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality v Gauteng Development Tribunal 2008, where Constitutional Court Judge Jafta J affirmed that “’planning’ in the context of municipal affairs is a term which has assumed a particular, well-established meaning which includes the zoning of land and the establishment of townships. In that context, the term is commonly used to define the control and regulation of the use of land”.
In this case, the City of Johannesburg’s powers to zone areas in township, agricultural or industrial zones was re-affirmed by the Constitutional Court against the Gauteng Development Tribunal’s attempts to zone Johannesburg land without consulting the Municipality. The Court categorically affirmed that because the constitution assigns the Municipal planning functions to the Municipality, it has the constitution right to control and regulate the use of land under its jurisdiction, and such function must not be interfered with.
The 2nd Constitutional Court judgment is one of Minister of Mineral Resources v Swartland Municipality , where the Constitutional Court re-affirmed the powers of the Municipality (in this case the Land Use Planning Ordinance [LUPO]) even on land where the Minister of Mineral Resources had granted a mining permit. In this case, the Constitutional Court ruled that, “it cannot be said that the MPRDA provides a surrogate municipal planning function that displaces LUPO. Its concern is mining, not municipal planning. That being so, LUPO continues to operate alongside the MPRDA. Once a mining right or mining permit has been issued, the successful applicant will not be able to mine unless LUPO allows for that use of the land in question”.
What this means is that Municipalities have the right to zone land and allocate it for purposes contained in the schedules that establish powers of the municipality, meaning that the EFF is within Constitutional confines to make a commitment to allocate land for residential, recreational, sporting, religious and industrial purposes. There is no provincial or national legislation that will undermine the powers of EFF Municipalities to give land to our people because such falls within the broader mandate of Municipal planning, which the Constitutional Court has ruled that it “is a term which has assumed a particular, well-established meaning which includes the zoning of land and the establishment of townships. In that context, the term is commonly used to define the control and regulation of the use of land”.
The question of whether the Municipalities have the power to control and regulate the use of land does not arise as it has already been solved through thorough legal interpretation of what the Constitution says are functions of local government. The EFF will use these legal instruments to drive decisive and developmental land reform programme which will empower the residents of the Municipalities where we will be government.
In exercising Municipal power to zone, allocate and regulate the usage of land in EFF run Municipalities, there will never be arbitrary provincial interferences. Whilst section 139 of the Constitution defines the role of provinces in relation to local government, the Constitutional Court has correctly interpreted in the Gauteng Development Tribunal case that Provinces “are not entitled to usurp the functions of the municipal sphere, except in exceptional circumstances, but then only temporarily and in compliance with strict procedures”.
It is on these grounds that the EFF Elections makes concrete commitments on land use, which include but not limited to;
The EFF People’s Municipality will pass by-laws which will expropriate and allocate land equitably to all residents of the Municipality for residential, recreational, industrial, religious, and agricultural purposes and activities with the principle of use it or lose it.
The EFF’s People Municipality will allocate Municipal land to ordinary citizens and ensure that it is used maximally for residential, sporting, recreational, religious and industrial purposes.
The EFF’s People Municipality will provide bulk services to all land designated for residential purposes and ALLOCATE STANDS TO PEOPLE FOR FREE through an open and transparent mechanism.
The EFF’s People Municipality will provide land for burial purposes and WILL AVOID THE RE-USE OF GRAVES as is the case in many areas in South Africa.
The EFF’s People Municipality will provide bulk irrigation services to all agricultural land and ensure that all agricultural land is fenced.
The EFF’s People Municipality will initiate, support and sustain programmes that train the people on agriculture with the aim of increasing agricultural productivity.
The EFF’s People Municipality will avail land for recreational and sporting fields and facilities.
The EFF’s People Municipality will provide land for free for the purposes of building places of worship and religious institutions.
These are concrete and implementable commitments because contrary to these, the role of municipalities in South Africa has been violent eviction of communities from the land, and congestion of our people into very small spaces. The EFF will use land for developmental purposes because the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) has correctly argued that land reform plays a significant role in ensuring food security, job creation and economic stability (FAO, 2006). Land reform can guarantee decent human settlement, food security, expansion of industry, dignified places of worship, dignified cemeteries, and proper sporting and recreational facilities.
The EFF Municipality will dynamically use land for the benefit of all and will support agricultural productivity as part of the local economic development function of the municipality. The EFF will build and maintain abattoirs and assist stock farmers with agricultural support programmes which will add value to stock agricultural products. These interventions and many others that are outlined in the EFF Elections Manifesto will go a long way in abolishing poverty because landlessness is one of the major causes of poverty in South Africa.
Julius Malema, EFF CIC and President.