Calvin Leshiba, Provincial Communal Property Institution (CPI) Chairperson and Barito Mabuela on Tuesday handed over a Bible to former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe with a message to President Jacob Zuma with the words: “We are giving back the Bible, we want our land back”.
This happened during a two-day, parliamentary panel hearing chaired by Motlanthe and concluded yesterday (Wednesday). The panel was formed to assess legislation and acceleration of fundamental change.
Mabuela said the biggest mistake black people made was to “give the land to the Bible” and that he was now giving the Bible back to the President. He said the second biggest mistake government made was to forget to take back the economy.
The panel, comprising 17 members was appointed in 2014 by Parliament’s Speakers’ forum to address social and economical inequality. Panellists who visited Polokwane included former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Human Science Research Council Olive Chisana, Former Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and African National Congress National Executive Member Brigitte Mabandla, former judge Navi Pillay, former Auditor-general and CEO of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants Terrence Nombembe.
The task of the panel, said Motlanthe, was to get input from all stakeholders, conduct desktop research, commission research and conduct outreach programmes. The purpose is to listen to the lived experience under various conditions of legislation where it added to deprivation or to made a person’s life better, and to share this, without fear or favour, with the panel, who is there to listen and not to comment or talk to the people.
The issues brought before the panel, firstly by invited organisations and then by individuals, included a wide range of topics pertaining to land and land redistribution, from the slowness of the process to complaints about Communal Property Associations, to the fact that payment should not be made for farms taken back, to the lack of assistance for farmers.
The mining sector was also in the spotlight for failing to comply with social and labour plans, community development and promises and bribing traditional leaders and taking over productive land without compensation. Another issue was tribal levies and an attorney said it was illegal, as the traditional leaders are getting paid, as well as receiving a free car and fuel as well as a cell phone. Foreigners and temporary immigration permits came under the spotlight, as did the government’s alleged failure to support cooperatives and lack of service delivery and ward councillors doing nothing for their people.
Limpopo was the last of the provinces to be visited by the panel. All input received will be collated and a report is expected to be finalised before the end of August this year.
Story & photos: NELIE ERASMUS