South Africa: Divided in Our Diversity - the Vereeniging Land Expropriation Hearings

Photo: Supplied
(file photo).

When you ask somebody for their opinion, it is proper to wait for them to finish speaking. President Cyril Ramaphosa's overtaking of the hearings of Parliament's Joint Constitutional Review Committee on Section 25 of the constitution reflects a prioritisation of party over people. Ramaphosa justified this infraction of dialogic norms with the sentiments expressed at the then still ongoing hearings.

Whether the hearings were ever meant to be more than theatre is questionable. But to reduce what was said across the country to the conclusion that "It has become patently clear that our people want the constitution be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation... " misses much. Coverage of the hearings has focused heavily on South Africa's "master narrative" of racial oppression and dispossession. This must be the starting point, but more has been revealed by this performance, as was evident at the Vereeniging hearings on the 27 July 2018, two days before Ramaphosa dropped the stage curtain.

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Public hearings are part of South Africa's participatory democracy: an opportunity for the people's voice to be heard. No easy undertaking, particularly when...

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