The ANC government in Ekurhuleni—the eastern part of the province of Gauteng—is pushing ahead with its move to seize another three white-owned properties without compensation—this time in urban areas—in order to build houses for blacks, according to that region’s mayor, Mzwandile Masina.
Today, Ekurhuleni Council resolved on the Expropriation of Land without Compensation of 4 properties in the City. We are testing the limits of Section 25 of the Constitution in order to accelerate inclusive housing development for our people. There is no turning back! pic.twitter.com/ZMFCicBdmc
— Mzwandile Masina (@mzwandileMasina) September 27, 2018
Masina, who had made the announcement on Twitter in September, said that “Ekurhuleni Council resolved on the Expropriation of Land without Compensation of 4 properties in the City. We are testing the limits of Section 25 of the Constitution in order to accelerate inclusive housing development for our people. There is no turning back!”
Masina has identified at least four properties, three of them privately owned, that he wants to expropriate without compensation.
Masina said he wanted Ekurhuleni “to be the first” metro in Gauteng to expropriate land without compensation, with the land expected to be used to establish new townships.
“The City of Ekurhuleni has identified four occupied properties, whose owners have essentially relinquished their property ownership rights and responsibilities. The City plans to immediately develop and establish townships on these pieces of land,” Masina said in a statement.
The decision was taken “in order to serve public interest and that the City has to act immediately to deal with its housing challenges,” he said.
“To ensure strict compliance to Section 25 of the Constitution, the first step was to exclude any hint of arbitrariness and or unreasonableness in our action, including assessment of the possibility of an alternative property or availability of less invasive means,” Masina said.
According to the statement, three of the identified properties are privately owned while the fourth is owned by government.
The largest of the privately owned properties is in Elandsfontein and is 101.2 hectares. Another in Driefontein is 33.6 hectares and the smallest is in Rietfontein with a size of 4.4 hectares.
The fourth property, which is 205 hectares, is owned by the government and is in Benoni.
“We want the City of Ekurhuleni to be at the forefront of land reform in Gauteng. We were the first to launch the Rapid Land Release Programme, and now we want to be the first Metro in Gauteng to expropriate land without compensation for the purposes of human settlement. Our resolve on this matter is guided by our commitment to serving the people of Ekurhuleni,” Masina said.
A South African Parliamentary subcommittee is currently reviewing Section 25 of the 1996 Constitution, and is expected to decide if this needs to be amended to allow for expropriation without compensation.
Section 25 states that property may only be expropriated under a law of general application (not arbitrarily), for a public purpose and with the payment of compensation. The move by the Ekurhuleni government sets the stage for a legal test of how far this clause can be interpreted to mean that land can be seized without compensation “for a public purpose”—and, if so, if it is even then necessary to amend the constitution.
In April 2017, Masina drew attention to himself when he announced that whites who “stand in way of social cohesion” will be “crushed” and in for a “very rough” time if they continue to oppose the ANC.