In 2011, the ANC Youth League took a resolution pushing for a debate on land expropriation, without compensation.

The league, led by its then president Julius Malema and his deputy Ronald Lamola failed to have the issue of land expropriation without compensation turned into a resolution at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung.

It also feels like yesterday when sitting in a press conference, the ANC’s Trevor Manuel suggested that the idea had been taken on board, deliberated on, but would not pass.

Manuel suggested at the time that the ANC was not ready for such a bold move.

Manuel, who was finance minister at the time, suggested for all reasons economical, that the idea put forward by the ANCYL was something to look into in the future.

And if a week is a long time in politics, nobody would have, at the time, foreseen that Julius Malema would be expelled from the party.

Who would have guessed that Malema would form his own party in 2013, The Economic Freedom Fighter, and contest the 2014 general elections?

Top of their agenda, was: (yes, you guessed it) Land.

Since its formation, the EFF has put at the heart of its existence, expropriation of land, BUT without compensation.

The land questions is an issue that Malema championed during his days as president of the Young Lions.

Even though the issue of land stands central in the Freedom Charter of the ruling party, the ANC has been slow to put forward a proposal as championed by Malema and the Youth League in 2011.

Now fast forward to 2017.

It is Nasrec and the ANC is deliberating in its 54th National Elective Conference. It is also facing a bruising battle between seven of its leaders for presidency of the party. The ruling party is also one and a half years away from one of its most important national elections.

But the elective conference, despite showcasing the Presidential race, turned out to be a battle ground of ideas that will take the party into its next phase.

And the issue of land expropriation without compensation, came back on the table.

At a media event, halfway through the conference, the ANC announced a decisive decision on land.

It reads as follows:

“The conference resolved that the ANC should, as a matter of policy, pursue expropriation of land without compensation. This should be pursued without destabilising the agricultural sector, without endangering food security in our country and without undermining economic growth and job creation.”

The economic transformation subcommittee, tasked with looking at the land question, is chaired by Enoch Godongwana.

But there is another, younger comrade who is also in the foreground.

His name is Ronald Lamola and in 2011, when the youth league proposed the initial resolution, was second in charge of the movement and Malema’s righthand man.

And so the resolution, as put on the table in Nasrec, and adopted, was not new to him.

And the chant at the time was ‘’economic freedom in our lifetime”.

Lamola is a lawyer by profession, with vast knowledge of the land issue.

He is the son of farm worker parents, and grew up in Kamatipoort in Mpumalanga.

He is deeply connected to the issue of land, and would have as a youngster, seen the devastating impact of land evictions.

And it is no coincidence that the ruling party has placed him squarely in opposition to Malema’s EFF on the land question.

The EFF has suggested that it has owned the debate on land – and particularly – the concept of land expropriation without compensation.

And just a week ago Malema made that point again, in Parliament, accusing the ruling party of not being serious on the issue.

Lamola, who has quietly stepped into limelight on the issue, has argued differently, and from a legal perspective.  Just recently, he alongside Enoch Godongwana led the debate at the ANC’s Land Summit. It was there, where Lamola’s prominence on land issues again resurfaced.

With Lamola being a legal mind, and scrutinising the constitution with the help of renowned advocate Thembeka Ngcukaotobi, the constitutionality of the expropriation of land without compensation became clearer to the ANC and it is this crucial role that will determine who, between Malema and Lamola brings the best solutions on the issue of expropriation of land without compensation.

With an election looming in 2019, political parties will put the land question in the debate.

The EFF will claim it.

And Lamola will remind them of the 2011 ANCYL proposal at the time.

The question, in the broader public arena, will not be who put the issue on the table first.

But who puts concrete measures in place that will bring closure to the issue. ')}

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In 2011, the ANC Youth League took a resolution pushing for a debate on land expropriation, without compensation. The league, led by its then president Julius Malema and his deputy Ronald Lamola failed to have the issue of land expropriation without compensation turned into a resolution at the ANC’s elective...