DA leader Mmusi Maimane has slammed the characterisation of the heated debate on expropriation of land without compensation as a "war" between black and white South Africans.
Maimane said it was not true that the majority of black people want the state to own all land as proposed by the EFF and the ANC or that all white people are opposed to land restitution and redistribution.
He said the sentiment was largely based on comments on social media that create the impression that there is "unison" among races on land.
"There is a view that the EFF offer on nationalisation of all land is a massive issue, and all black people are in unison about that, it's not true.
"It's actually when we test it and look at people [that we find out it's not true]. They want to know they can be able to own land in their own right as individuals.
"You can drive the narrative that says the land debate is about black people vs white people. That would be the worst pace to start," Maimane said.
'Corrupt, incapable state' to blame
He insists that expropriation of land without compensation is a "lazy" way out that does not guarantee the acceleration of land restitution and redistribution.
He maintains that section 25 of the Constitution, which is about property rights and expropriation of land in the public interest, is not an inhibitor. What has slowed change in the patterns of land ownership instead, he says, is a "corrupt and incapable state" not willing to test the Constitution, instead choosing to pay exorbitant prices set by land owners.
Maimane was speaking to News24 on Friday ahead of the party's elective congress next month where he is cleared for a second term as leader after no one stood to contest him for the position.
Policy is expected to dominate the growing party's conference with the aim of attracting more black voters who want the DA to focus more on redress.
He slammed AfriForum for claiming that white farmers were being targeted in violent attacks and the Australian government for announcing that it would prioritise visa applications for white farmers as a result.
"You can't set up a false war among races. By saying that white people are being targeted, you must then answer the follow up question and say: 'Who is targeting them?'
Open to coalition with EFF
"We have a problem of crime and murder in the country... in farming communities, townships and informal settlements. For a country to stand up and say we will offer visas on the characterisation of race... it is certainly not a view I support," Maimane said. Despite the DA's ideological differences with the EFF over land, Maimane said he was still open to the possibility of forming a coalition government with the red berets after the 2019 elections. The EFF put forward a motion of no confidence against Nelson Mandela Bay metro Mayor Athol Trollip to punish the DA for going against the motion to amend the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
Maimane said instead of the parties trying to "bully" each other on policies, they should talk about plans for government programmes.
"We can't cannibalise each other, we must find each other," he said.