Mr Matome Chidi - Left
Members of parliament met towards the end of 2019 to discuss the long-awaited draft bill on land expropriation without compensation (EWC). With the draft bill set to be published for public comment, there has been some fear-mongering on social media platforms suggesting that the proposed law will lead to Zimbabwe-like land seizures.
As a result, Botlokwa Online spoke with Mr Matome Chidi an attorney admitted by the High Court of South Africa for clarification on the issue of EWC. Mr Matome Chidi was born and bred in Limpopo, Botlokwa, he holds an LLB Degree obtained from the University of Limpopo.
Mr Matome Chidi is also an author who has produced two books under the subject of Land. His first book was released in 2018 and titled; Landlessness is a Constitutional Sin, and the second book’s title is; Land Reform: Nations Commitment and Constitutional Mandate which will be launched on the 7th of March 2020 at Polokwane, Library Gardens.
The question on everyone’s lips is whether or not this amendment will have any impact on the owners of private properties, we asked Mr Chidi to provide some clarity. “Section 25 of the Constitution promotes land reform than private ownership of property but it does so when it says that reform obviously from land inequality to land equality and if you were to do so you focus on land – alternatively property obtained due to discriminatory laws. Any person who was favoured by the apartheid regime managed to acquire a lot of things such as quality education because of land. They used the land to get money to afford such things,” Mr Chidi explained.
Many believe that if EWC were to be applied it would have enormous unsettling effects on the whole economy, we just had to ask Mr Chidi what his thoughts on the issue are. “Such an opinion is misplaced. Who has planted it in the minds of the people? Take this example- If we could go back a bit. In the past, people ploughed one hector fields. They were called “masemo” or “mašhemo”, depending on whether you use Setlokwa or Northern Sotho. The generation before us worked the land. Amongst others, they produced maize. There were, and still are, maize-processing facilities (tšhilo) in many African communities. Unfortunately, they no longer serve any purpose. It may do us well to remember how functional these things were.”
“Imagine going back to that tried and tested system! It is not farfetched. If most of the households were to have water and we develop beyond-subsistence, but below commercial farming, do you think that the guy who produces maize would be content with such a development? What about the maize meal producer or the guy transporting such? Frustrated by the prospects of the emancipation of Africans and the potential loss of profits, those who currently benefit from the economics of maize and maize meal production decide to sow a poisonous seed of sophistry. They go about misdirecting those who are quick to accept information as long as it is from a Professor, especially of a specific race thought to be superior”.
According to Mr Chidi there are no negative effects we may likely experience due to the implementation of land reform. In fact, there are prospects of gains. “Just take the example above. Wisdom born of experience tells us that if we go back, the money expended on maize meal would be utilized for something else. In the process, the farmer guy will go about noising-around to confuse the potential beneficiaries of the maize meal program. The emphasis on maize meal is relevant to the extent that many may relate to the example. The same principle may apply to tomatoes, for example, and others.”
Mr Chidi explains that his first book Landlessness is a Constitutional Sin was partly meant to contribute to answering the debate in Parliament on how to expropriate land without compensation. He said Section 25 and other sections of the Constitution had been analysed and recommendations made on how the state may expropriate land without compensation.
He further explains that expropriation without compensation may be achieved without amending the Constitution and in the second book he stresses that if the law was implemented, there would not be land-inequality. He says that the Preamble to the Constitution records the commitment to uplift citizens quality of life and to free persons’ potential.
Mr Chidi further explains that in his book he shows that the nation’s commitment to land as recorded in section 25 (4) shows the depth of the commitment. According to him, land reform is a constitutional mandate. He reiterated in his book that the law demands that all must transform and that the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act demands economic unity.
Mr Chidi contributes to debates on equality and land reform. He believes that sufficient land access is the basis for prosperity hence the need to contribute from that perspective. His work on policy issues is expressed in his books. He has participated in the Constitutional Review Committee and also takes part in Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee on the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution. As an attorney and an author, he participates as invited from time to time in Parliament.
He also has a monthly feature on Energy FM where he discusses matters of land and other related matters faced by communities. He also writes opinion pieces on the topic. In the first book Chidi argued that expropriation without compensation may be achieved without amending the Constitution, though he was not opposed to an amendment.
Mr Chidi reiterate that many issues regarding expropriation of land without compensation are covered in both his books, for a copy you can contact him on 079 790 5725 and email address chidiattorneysfree@gmailcom. As stated, there is also a book launch for his second book on the 7th of March 2020 at Library Gardens Polokwane. For more details regarding the launch refer to the poster below. “Ke tseo Batlokwa, a re yeng” and support one of our own, as Botlokwa Online we also received an invite to the launch and will definitely be making time to attend.