Fears over the African National Congress (ANC) amending the constitution are rooted in a desire by whites to prevent the government from addressing the property question, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said yesterday.
Numsa, a powerful affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), has been at the forefront of the call for constitutional change to address the land question.
It has urged Cosatu to work hard to ensure a 70% majority win for the ANC in the next election to pave the way for amendments to the property clause to speed up land redistribution.
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Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim yesterday criticised the FW De Klerk Foundation’s response to the release of the ANC’s policy documents earlier this month.
Mr de Klerk last week wrote a defence of the constitution amid reports that the ANC was contemplating drastic changes to it.
In it, he argued that the ANC, through future policy, sought to discard the country’s constitutional consensus by tampering with property rights through the green paper on land reform, the role and powers of the provinces, language and education rights and freedom of expression. Foundation executive director David Steward said yesterday that most worrying was the ANC’s move to review the powers of the Constitutional C ourt.
However, Mr Jim argued that in the past 18 years the "ruthless constitutional defence of white monopoly capital" and the "apartheid white social and cultural privileges" have entrenched mass poverty, unemployment and extreme inequalities among blacks in general and African women and youth in particular.
"This is the constitutional sovereignty Mr FW de Klerk says the ANC is now threatening to dispense with - wealth and privilege is white; and poverty, unemployment and mass inequality largely affect black people in general and Africans in particular," he said.
The property question was at the heart of the foundation’s defence of the constitution.
"Real property in SA is white; its absence is black and African," Mr Jim said.
"It is impossible to celebrate ‘democracy’ outside resolving the property question in SA."
Mr Steward blamed Numsa and Cosatu for high levels of unemployment in the country, due to what he said was a rigid labour environment.
He said property rights were also the cornerstone of modern economies across the globe, and Numsa was living in a "dreamworld" if it pushed for them to be dispensed with.
Mr Steward said the review of the powers of the Constitutional Court was not about transformation, as stated by the government, but was about the state’s displeasure at the way the courts limited its power.
ANC national executive committee member Cyril Ramaphosa, writing in a Sunday paper last week, said the ANC was not abandoning the constitutional principles for which it fought and would not take amending it lightly.