Enhancing SA’s democratic institutions, including the judiciary; finding ways to bring the media to heel; sorting out the land issue; and economic policy based on the National Development Plan imperatives were some of the main thrusts of a policy documents released by the ANC yesterday in anticipation of its upcoming national policy conference, reports Legalbrief. These are discussed in more detail in the POLICY WATCH section below. However, on the judiciary the document states: ‘The objective and subjective reasons that have resulted in the mushrooming of referrals to these institutions of issues that could be resolved in the political and policy sphere – a form of ‘lawfare’ – should be identified and resolved.’ It adds: ‘Besides weaknesses in government in managing unsavoury developments, this trend also reflects attempts on the part of some privileged sectors of society to undermine the popular electoral mandate.’ A report on the IoL site notes the government has had to deal with the aftermath of major judgments, which the ANC says tend to put the judiciary in the position of running the country. ‘This has an effect of sucking the judiciary into the maelstrom of day to day societal management and thus unnecessarily spluttering it with mud.’ Each arm of government – the executive, judiciary, and legislature – ‘should play their role in the context of the doctrine of separation of powers,’ it said. Its policy conference will take place at the end of June and will be followed by the national elective conference set for December.
Party leaders are divided on whether or not to explore land expropriation without compensation, says a Mail & Guardian report. Under pressure to reverse the declining electoral support it experienced during the 2016 local government elections, the party started the year with calls for radical economic transformation, with some, including President Jacob Zuma, calling for expropriation without compensation. But others, including ANC head of economic transformation Enoch Godongwana, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor and ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, have expressed reservations. ‘The current (ANC) policy does not talk about expropriation without compensation,’ Godongwana reportedly told the M&G. ‘What was said in Mangaung in 2012 is that property or land taken illegally should be subject to expropriation without compensation with due regard to section 25 of the Constitution,’ he added. The discussion document on economic transformation calls for land reform to be accelerated through the adoption of updated expropriation legislation. It also calls on government to ‘take heed of the Constitutional Court’s finding that agreement on the quantum of fair compensation is not a pre-condition for land redistribution to take place’. The document is, however, less emphatic on the issue of expropriation without compensation as the president of the party has been.
It has proposed more taxes for unused land to force owners to sell their land to the state in an attempt to fast-track its failed redistribution programme, says a News24 report. Godongwana said the party was looking at a raft of taxes for unoccupied land or land bought for speculative purposes. ‘We, in a sense, unashamedly put a proposal to tax land used for speculative purposes to force people to sell,’ Godongwana said. He admitted that the party had no new policy proposals on land but they had ‘perfumed’ past policy documents. ‘Unfortunately I have to concede… 20 years since the signing of the Constitution we don’t have an Expropriation Act which is in line with the Constitution,’ Godongwana said.
The ANC also intends crafting legislation to ‘dismantle the monopoly’ of ‘white-owned’ print media houses it regards as being hostile, says a Daily Dispatch report. It would in the years ahead be getting more aggressive in reducing its advertising spend in the mainstream print media, and instead plans channelling its advertising budget to community-based media institutions. This was said by the chairperson of the ANC’s sub-committee on communications, Jackson Mthembu. He said print-media ownership patterns needed to reflect the demographics of the country. ‘We are saying ‘no’, there must be change. Ownership patterns of the media must represent the people of SA as a whole.’
More detail on the policy documents in POLICY WATCH section (below)
See more at Legalbrief