Unions to call mock referendum on land reform

Two Cosatu-affiliated unions are planning to call a mock referendum for the scrapping of the willing buyer, willing seller provision of the property clause in the Constitution.

Metalworkers union Numsa and the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) told journalists in Johannesburg this morning that it would launch a three-month campaign on land reform starting next Wednesday, the centenary of the passing of the 1913 Land Act.

Numsa president Cedric Gina said the campaign would involve marches to the offices of Agri SA and the departments of rural development and agriculture and it would look at ways of organising farm workers.

The unions are also planning to get involved, as part of Cosatu, in the discussions of the Expropriation Bill and Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill when these come before Nedlac.

This would culminate in a mock referendum for members to “show that our demands resonate among our members”, said Gina.

Gina said President Jacob Zuma himself admitted in his state of the nation address in February that the land reform targets will not be met by 2014, but he didn’t give an alternative date.

He also slammed the National Development Plan, which didn’t propose a new target, but only implied “land reform targets must be within the government’s fiscal constraints”.

The demands of the unions are:
Amend the property clause in the Constitution to unblock land redistribution, because it could not be left up to an “untransformed judiciary” to interpret what is meant by “just and equitable” compensation.

2. Complete the land register, which was agreed on at the National Land Summit in 2005 and which should indicate who owned what in South Africa.

3. Appeal to the Competition Commission to complete its investigation into restrictive practices, abuse of dominance and anticompetitive conduct in the food and agroprocessing sectors.

4. Turn the Green Paper on Land Reform into a bill, because it was already introduced in 2011 but has been moving too slowly.

5. Sort tenure in communal areas, because this was not adequately addressed in the Green Paper and needs a clearer strategy.

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