No unity without land - Ramaphosa

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Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa says the nation will never be united unless the land injustices are addressed.

Speaking during an African National Congress (ANC) land summit that was held over the weekend in Boksburg, Johannesburg, President Ramaphosa said his government realises the void that has been created due to the delays in addressing the land issue in the nation.

“Without the redistribution of land, we will not build a united South Africa. Without giving the poor the means to productively farm the land, we will not defeat poverty.

“We need to acknowledge that the lack of progress in land reform can be attributed to a great extent to weaknesses in the institutions responsible for effecting policies to inconsistencies in legislation, to misguided interventions and to a misallocation of resources,” said Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa added that the land issue should have been addressed soon after the end of apartheid rule but the country remains in deep inequality along racial lines.

President Ramaphosa vowed that his government is ready to undo the grave historical injustice.  

“To have placed 87% of the land into ownership hands of a white minority and only 13% being made available to the black majority was a clear act that was meant to stunt the economic prospects of the country,” added the president.

“Like all other economic resources in this country, it has historically been employed to serve the interests of a narrow section of society. Our responsibility is to ensure that we have a comprehensive, coherent and sustainable programme for land reform,” he said.

Analysts, however, say implementation of land appropriation without compensation is in the hands of the ANC who if they were serious could have taken action long back.

Political analyst Dr Isaac Somukheliso told The Southern Times that the ruling party mighty risk wasting all the energy and resources in meetings without action.

“We honestly do not want a situation where politicians sweet talk the nation in meaningless meetings without action being taken. The ANC has the power and ability to tackle the matter and if they are really serious about it, they should talk less and act more. 

Am sure the nation is tired of false hope from politicians. My hope is that this is not just a mere propaganda campaign by the ANC to win the elections next year,” said Somukheliso.

Legal expert advocate, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, said the ANC needs to address the legislative framework in order to resolve the land issue.

“It is within its power to pass legislation, sometimes legislation that limits provisions that are in the Constitution and that is perfectly compatible with the structure of the Constitution and the land reform debate can be taken aggressively within the parameters of the Constitution,” said advocate Ngcukaitobi.

Moeletsi Mbeki, a political analyst, attacked the ANC and the EFF political parties’ stance on land expropriation without compensation, saying it is cheap propaganda aimed at getting votes.

“It is propaganda using white South Africans to tell poor blacks that they must vote for the ANC and EFF because they will take land away from the white people,” he said.

The ANC has, however, admitted that it is facing serious challenges in addressing the land issue. 

The party’s member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), Ronald Lamola, said many loopholes in the system contributed to the failure.

“The Motlanthe high-level panel on assessment of key legislation and acceleration of fundamental change are the reasons for our failures, particularly on land reform are misguided policies, insufficient budget, failure to align the laws with the constitution, corruption, inefficient government systems, failure to fully exploit constitutional space especially in the area of expropriation without compensation, incorrect interpretation of the constitution,” said Lamola.

The party’s land summit concluded that section 25 of the constitution must be used immediately for the expropriation of land where possible.

“We must immediately use section 25 of the constitution to press ahead with the expropriation of land where it can be done in order to test the argument that the constitution doesn’t need changing,” added Lamola.

There has been a fresh augment that section 25 of the constitution that was awaiting amendment will remain like that.

The ANC resolved over the weekend summit to press ahead with expropriation of land without compensation in terms of Section 25 of the Constitution as it currently stands.

The party argues that the Constitution, as it stands, already allows for expropriation of land without compensation.

The party also called for the Expropriation Bill, which had been sent back and forth between former president Jacob Zuma and Parliament, to be passed immediately.

Security of tenure was also high on the list of recommendations to be sent to the ANC’s NEC following the party’s land summit at the weekend in Boksburg.

Head of the ANC’s subcommittee on economic transformation, Enoch Godingwana, said the outcomes and recommendations from the Boksburg land summit were not binding, adding that they were recommendations that would be taken to the ANC’s NEC meeting to be held soon.

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