Does the Constitution obstruct or support land reform?
At a recent public discussion hosted by Oxfam, this recurring question was not resolved, despite the calibre of the speakers.
The issue was tackled by Bulelwa Mabasa, director at Werksmans Attorneys; Public Works Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin; Sithandiwe Yeni, rural transformation manager at Oxfam SA; and Lubabalo Ntsholo, EFF parliamentary researcher.
Critics of the role of the Constitution tend to focus on the property clause, but it is necessary to look at the issue of political will — what is the role of the Constitution in creating this lack of political will?
For a start, political will must be demystified. Politics is essentially the struggle for and against state power, and the explanation of political will has to have at its centre the issue of state power. When it comes to land reform, the “lack of political will” means that those who want land reform lack the power to make it happen. Those who do not want land reform have the power to block it. It is its role in the distribution of state power, not the property clause, that is the biggest reason why the Constitution obstructs land reform.
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