National Forum for Dialogue one-sided, faces crisis of legitimacy

The decision by the National Forum for Dialogue (NFD), to exclude major voices of opposition to land expropriation without compensation (EWC), plunges it into a crisis of legitimacy. Moreover, the participation by President Cyril Ramaphosa, key government officials and the constitutional review committee in such a one-sided event, suggests a bleak outlook for the public consultation process on EWC. This is the position of AfriBusiness, on the news of an event next week purporting to facilitate national dialogue on land reform.
According to media reports the NFD, initiated among others by Mr Roelf Meyer, is set to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Illovo. An opening address is set to be delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Additionally, the constitutional review commission apparently intends to use the event as an “induction and orientation opportunity” for their public consultation process.

However, a draft programme seen by AfriBusiness reveals a striking absence of major role-players opposed to EWC.

Piet le Roux, CEO of AfriBusiness, says his organisation has not been approached by the NFD, despite having recently convened a high-profile summit for organisations opposed to EWC: “On 6 March, within a week after the motion for EWC in parliament, AfriBusiness hosted a high-profile summit in opposition to EWC. It was attended by more than a dozen organisations, including major NGO’s, agricultural organisations, think tanks and almost all parties who voted against the motion. It is inconceivable that something hoping today to be a national dialogue could exclude us and virtually all the organisations that attended our summit.”

The AfriBusiness summit was attended by representatives of major civil society organisations and political parties, including AfriForum, AgriSA, the FW de Klerk Foundation, the Helen Suzman Foundation, the Solidarity Movement, the South African Institute of Race Relations, TLU SA, the Free Market Foundation, the DA, the FF+, and the ACDP.

“We shall monitor the event, but the way in which this NFD was set up has made it virtually impossible for the proceedings to resemble a dialogue. By excluding the critical voices of major role-players from their event, the NFD has sacrificed its legitimacy. And the attendance by President Ramaphosa, key government officials and even the constitutional review committee suggests nothing good for an open and balanced public consultation process on EWC going forward.”

Photo: Brenche Loubcer