Address by Mr ML Filtane, MP in the National Assembly
Honourable Deputy-Speaker and Honourable Members
In November 1990, 85 churches met for the National Conference of Church Leaders in South Africa and produced what is well known as the Rustenburg Declaration. The central theme of the Conference was the expression of the contrition for the wrongs and sins of the past, and a call for action to repair those wrongs.
In paragraph 2.4. of the declaration, the (Church Leaders) Conference said … “we know that without genuine repentance and practical restitution we cannot appropriate God’s forgiveness and that without justice true reconciliation is impossible”.
The Conference said… “As a first step towards restitution, we call on the Government to return all land expropriated … to its original owners”.
The call by the church leaders, would respond to what, today, seems to be glaringly missing in the debate about land. Notwithstanding the provisions of the constitution, the question of moral demand or rightness of not only changing land access and relationships, BUT of repairing the hurt, misery, brokenness, and trauma of people often violently ripped from their land for generations.
In 2013, we marked the centenary of the 1913 Native Land Act, which heralded an extraordinary scale of land dispossession. Many South Africans, including members of this House, made moving observations and experiences about the viciousness of that Act and its subsequent impact on land ownership in South Africa.
However, any talk on land, has still not translated into a legislative and policy landscape that recognises the question of land reform as a matter inclusive economic development, moral concern and legal justice.
The United Democratic Movement (UDM) supports the wide and inclusive consultative process on this matter of nation interest. We want to remind citizens that the most lucrative and substantial amount of land was taken before the 19th of June 1913.
The failure of the restitution programme, as found in the report of the High Panel, represents justice denied. The principle of justice, as would have been understood by the conference of Church Leaders, demands that where something was unjust acquired or taken away, it must be returned or given back.
In simple language, if you steal my vehicle, I lay a claim to it, I deserve it back. I am not required to buy it back. This is what the moral and legal interpretation of what justice must be. Justice delayed is justice denied.
It cannot be that to the victor go the spoils and so a “finder-keepers” situation. In fact, what may invite unending conflict, is not the return of land to its rightful owners, but the refusal to do so “… return the land to its rightful owners”.
Given the historical reality of our society, the current economic challenges confronting the nation, the increasing levels of inequality and poverty, the UDM support, the motion.