BALOBEDU - WE WANT OUR LAND

Mod­jadji King­dom tells Ramaphosa to fast­track its land claim The Balobedu claimed 200 farms be­tween Tzaneen and Giyani in 1998 Re­gent Mpa­p­atla Mod­jadji says they want their land re­turned peace­fully Queen-elect Masalan­abo Mod­jadji VII pre­pares to take o

African Times - - Front Page - PIET RAMPEDI

THE Balobedu King­dom has called on Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to en­sure its claim for more than 200 com­mer­cial farms across Mopani in Lim­popo is fi­nalised as soon as pos­si­ble.

How­ever, Prince Mpa­p­atla Mod­jadji says the land should be re­turned peace­fully to the an­cient Mod­jadji tribe with the help of the gov­ern­ment in the same way its Queen­ship sta­tus has been re­stored.

Speak­ing at the queen­ship restora­tion cel­e­bra­tion at Mok­wak­waila Vil­lage on Saturday, the re­gent also lamented the delays in the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the claims lodged be­tween 1996 and 1998.

Dig­ni­taries in­clud­ing Ramaphosa, his pre­de­ces­sor Ja­cob Zuma, ZCC spir­i­tual leader Bishop Barn­abas Lek­ganyane; Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Zweli Mkhize, Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga and her hus­band Mathole Mot­shekga, a mem­ber of the Balobedu clan, as well as Lim­popo Premier Stan Matha­batha and VhaVenda King Toni Mphe­phu Ram­ab­u­lana graced the oc­ca­sion.

Prince Mpa­p­atla, who ac­com­pa­nied 13-year-old queen­elect Masalan­abo Mod­jadji V11 to the func­tion, said his tribe had claimed the multi-mil­lion hectare land that stretches be­tween Tzaneen and Giyani. It is cir­cled by the Letaba, Klein Letaba and Mid­dle Letaba Rivers, he said.

“Some of it was bought by Queen Kh­e­seth­wane, and dur­ing that time they were not al­lowed to be given ti­tle deeds. They were given deeds of grant of which we still have some at home. Some of those pieces of land were never re­turned. But we know they were part of our land,”Prince Mpa­p­atla said.

“We don’t need the land to be brought to us through war. Like I told you, we are peo­ple of peace. We don’t need war to get our land back. We just need our land back in a proper way with the help of our gov­ern­ment, and that land in­volved more than 200 farms that we have claimed and we haven’t got a sin­gle farm of that land.”

He stressed that the Balobedu planned to use the land to cre­ate jobs and boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“If there are peo­ple who want to farm on that land they will go on part­ner­ship with us, and we make sure Balobedu ben­e­fit from that land, not a few peo­ple, but Balobedu in terms of work, in terms of food. If there is no land which may be used for farm­ing, then Balobedu may al­lo­cate it to their peo­ple”.

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This came two months af­ter Par­lia­ment adopted an EFF-spon­sored Mo­tion on Ex­pro­pri­a­tion of Land With­out Com­pen­sa­tion by 241 votes t0 83. The ANC, UDM, APC and Agang sup­ported the mo­tion while the DA, Free­dom Front Plus and Cope op­posed it.

The mo­tion has since been re­ferred to Par­lia­ment’s Con­sti­tu­tional Re­view Com­mit­tee, to ef­fect ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion, and re­port back to the Na­tional As­sem­bly by Au­gust 30.

Maite Nkoana-Masha­bane, the Min­is­ter of Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Land Af­fairs, has since taken a hard line ap­proach to the land is­sue, say­ing she would use cur­rent laws to ex­pro­pri­ate land as the con­sti­tu­tional re­view com­mit­tee de­lib­er­ates on the mat­ter. She said it was un­ac­cept­able for blacks to own 4% of the land 24 years into our new dis­pen­sa­tion.

Ramaphosa ac­knowl­edged the delays in land resti­tu­tion but urged the Balobedu to be pa­tient and al­low gov­ern­ment and par­lia­men­tary pro­cesses to take place.

He com­mit­ted his gov­ern­ment to re­turn­ing the land of the Mod­jadji tribe in the same way it did their queen­ship.

Ramaphosa said the fact that the apartheid gov­ern­ment had al­lo­cated 87% of the land to the white mi­nor­ity, and the rest to the black ma­jor­ity, meant that much of the land was not pro­duc­tively utilised. His gov­ern­ment, he added, wanted to change this and en­sure food se­cu­rity.

“That we are go­ing to return the land to our peo­ple is a fore­gone con­clu­sion be­cause we are go­ing to do it, and we will do it for the sake of the dig­nity of our peo­ple. But also, for the sake of in­creas­ing the agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion of our agri­cul­tural sec­tor and also to grow the econ­omy of our coun­try,” Ramaphosa said.

“So, there­fore, it is in this area that our tra­di­tional lead­ers have a role to play in pro­mot­ing the at­trac­tive­ness of agri­cul­ture to all our peo­ple.”

He urged those who were forced to the ur­ban ar­eas to con­sider re­turn­ing “to come and work the land as we return the land to our peo­ple”.

Willem Van Jaarsveld, the CEO of Agri SA in Lim­popo, said he was not aware of the Balobedu land claim in Letaba.

How­ever, the fact that the gov­ern­ment had failed to fi­nalise it two decades later was the rea­son be­hind the cur­rent “chaotic” land re­form process, un­cer­tainty and threat to food se­cu­rity, he added.

“The im­pli­ca­tions for the com­mer­cial farm­ers, whether they are our mem­bers or not, with claims that have not been fi­nalised is much more dev­as­tat­ing im­pact that a claim which has been fi­nalised suc­cess­fully,”Van Jaarsveld said.

He said this was be­cause in­vest­ment on land that has been claimed and not fi­nalised stops, which de­val­ues the prop­erty and af­fect food se­cu­rity.

“To us, it’s just as un­ac­cept­able that so many claims have not been fi­nalised as it is for the claimants. So there are frus­tra­tions on both sides for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.”

Van Jaarsveld added: “We must suc­ceed in land re­form; oth­er­wise we will not have food se­cu­rity.”

Re­gent Prince MT Mod­jadji with Queen elect Masalan­abo Mod­jadji dur­ing the Balobedu queen­ship sta­tus cel­e­bra­tion at the Mok­wak­waila Sta­dium out­side Mod­jad­jiKloof. Picture: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela/ Vis­ual Buzz SA

Pictures: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela/ Vis­ual Buzz SA

JU­BI­LANT: For­mer Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and ANC MP Mathole Mot­shekga with Queen elect Masalan­abo Mod­jadji dur­ing the Balobedu Queen­ship cel­e­bra­tion at the Mok­wak­waila Sta­dium out­side Mod­jad­jiskloof, Lim­popo.

Picture: Den­vor de Wee/ Vis­ual Buzz SA

CEL­E­BRA­TION TIME :Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Zweli Mkhize, ZCC spir­i­tual leader Bishop Barn­abas Lek­ganyane and VhaVenda King Toni Mphe­phu Ram­ab­u­lana.

Pictures: Den­vor de Wee and Le­bo­gang Mak­wela

IM­PRESSED: Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and Lim­popo Premier Stan Matha­batha ac­knowl­edge Prince Mpa­p­atla Mod­jadji’s mov­ing speech.

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