Land expropriation without compensation took centre stage in the Gauteng legislature on Tuesday.
Reiterating what Premier David Makhura told News24 last week, Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo said: "We are talking about rapid land release. We are going to start releasing land right away and right now...
"Whether you like it or not, we are going to, not only take the land that is in government's hands, but we are going to take private land as well."
Mamabolo was participating in a debate on land reform in the provincial legislature.
He said the DA had a narrow understanding of what land reform meant.
"The DA believes that all our people want are residential title deeds... When we speak about land expropriation without compensation, we speak of the source of all wealth."
ANC's MPL Lebogang Maine tabled the motion on land reform to be debated in the legislature earlier on Tuesday.
The motion was not voted on.
"We resolve that expropriation of land without compensation as one of the means to achieve land restitution and security of tenure," Maine said.
He said land reform would mean increased growth and shared wealth.
'White farmers still own three-quarters of the agricultural land'
Makhura told News24 last week that the province was completing an audit of all unused privately-owned land in order to test the Constitution, instead of waiting on the parliamentary process currently reviewing the property rights clause of the Constitution.
"There are tracts of land, others just being used for speculation, other land parcels have been abandoned by landlords living overseas waiting for one day to sell the land to developers at huge profits," Makhura said at the time.
"We can expropriate land without compensation with immediate effect to test the Constitution. Those that say the Constitution does allow expropriation for public purposes, this is the time," Makhura said in a long and wide-ranging interview with News24.
He said expropriated land would be given to residents who wanted to use it for building houses, food production and industrialisation.
He confirmed that he had established a task team to identify all the privately-owned land that was lying idle. The government had already concluded an audit on land owned by the state.
Makhura said he had asked all municipalities to comply with the audit of private land.
Chairperson of the Infrastructure Committee, Lindiwe Masindwa, said land remained the primary source of black people's livelihoods.
"The current reality in South Africa is that more than 80% of the land was taken by white farmers. White farmers still own three-quarters of the agricultural land."
'The poor are not dumb'
EFF Gauteng chairperson Mandisa Mashego said land should be transferred to its rightful owners and custodians, but "there is a lack of political will from the ANC".
"The willing buyer, willing seller sell-out failed, and the ANC admitted that."
Mashego said land reform would mean that farmworkers would benefit because they would no longer be evicted from the farms.
She said the Constitution should be amended to include expropriation without compensation.
IFP Gauteng chairperson Bonginkosi Dlamini said land should be restored, because injustices that were committed needed to be corrected.
"We must learn from the past. We do not want to be part of people that create a nation of squatters. I do not want to be a tenant in my own country."
He said the poor were not stupid.
"Let us take the land for residential use, but we must be able to be able to provide essential services, because the poor are not dumb."
'Their daily lives are hell on earth'
DA Gauteng leader John Moodey reiterated his party's rejection of expropriation without compensation.
"Many of our critics have lambasted us for not joining in on this populist notion, with some even claiming that this belies the inherent racist bent of the party.
"The DA is a firm believer in redress and we are by no means ignorant to the slow pace of reform in this country."
Moodey accused the ANC of bloating its personal security, instead of prioritising land reform.
"The people who live in these places are subjected to hardships that are beyond comprehension. For many, their daily lives are hell on earth.
"Given the ANC's abysmal approach to land reform, state ownership of all land will not be a silver bullet to improve the plight of our people. People living in abject poverty will remain on society's bottom rung."