The matter of the ongoing national debate on land expropriation, and specifically the purported leaked pamphlet from the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, is a welcome contribution and enrichment of the process to find solutions to the vexed question of land reform in South Africa.
The content orientation and historical account of the land question as contained in the pamphlet are narrated very clearly and factually. The position adopted in the pamphlet accords with the view and position maintained, under rowdy and intolerant circumstances, by the Congress of the People since the matter was spuriously escalated by those seeking narrow, partisan and short term gains in voter support in the run-up to next year’s elections.
The lessons of our history records that the forebears of the struggle for a constitutional democracy were guided by fundamental principles and values that later found expression in the Freedom Charter of 1955 . These were later entrenched in the 1996 constitution of the land in order to protect the rights of all people, black and white.
The fact of the matter is, and as now confirmed by the Mbeki Foundation, that to abandon the position that ‘land shall be shared among those who work on It’; and that expropriation must be accompanied by compensation, is a damning shift from the Freedom Charter’s vision of the creation of a non-racial, non sexist and democratic society.
The governing party cannot escape the responsibility to answer the question of “who is our people”.
Led by the visionary and committed leader of the struggle of the people of South Africa for decades, comrade Mosiuoa Lekota, COPE will relentlessly pursue the objectives of land reform which includes redistribution, restitution and tenure reform within the parameters of the provisions of Section 25 of the constitution. In the ten (10) of the existence of our party we have been consistent in defense of this constitution when some in society were clearly seeking to undermine it.
We shall not hesitate, for populist and identity politics reasons, to continue with efforts to engage South Africans of all persuasions to convince them of the correctness of the historical account which is well articulated by one of the leading critical thinkers and visionaries, former President Thabo Mbeki. The future of a peaceful and prosperous nation is predicated upon constructive guidance to avoid repeating devastating historical mistakes.
We reject any notion of populist rhetoric by rabble rousers who seek to divide the nation rather than find credible and durable solutions that can guarantee peace and social cohesion for posterity.
Issued by COPE’s Executive Committee.
National Chairperson of Congress of the People| Member of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature
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