Restor­ing the dig­nity of our peo­ple

Vuk'uzenzele - - From Tyhoeuutnhiofnocbuusildings -

it was for­mer Deputy Chief Jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke who said: “Land is not just an is­sue of eco­nomic or com­mer­cial im­por­tance – it has mean­ing at many lev­els. It is very spir­i­tual. It is in land that we bury our peo­ple, we con­nect and speak to our an­ces­tors. It is land on which churches, tem­ples and mosques are built and it is from land that we eat and sur­vive.”

It was in this con­text that the Na­tional Assem­bly adopted a mo­tion on land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion in Fe­bru­ary this year. Fol­low­ing this res­o­lu­tion, a Con­sti­tu­tional Review Com­mit­tee has been es­tab­lished to con­sider the le­gal and eco­nomic as­pects of ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

The com­mit­tee will also con­sider whether it is nec­es­sary to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion to al­low for the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Review Com­mit­tee must re­port back to Par­lia­ment by 30th Au­gust 2018.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent land au­dit re­port less than 4 per­cent of pri­vate ru­ral land and less than 7 per­cent of pri­vate ur­ban land is owned by Black South Africans.

Since 1994, the demo­cratic gov­ern­ment has em­barked on a se­ries of in­ter­ven­tions to ad­vance land re­form, in­clud­ing resti­tu­tion, re­dis­tri­bu­tion and ten­ure re­form.

While more than 3 mil­lion hectares of land was re­stored be­tween 1995 and 2014, the land au­dit re­port into pri­vate land in­di­cates that whites still own around 72 per­cent of the farms owned by in­di­vid­u­als, coloureds 15 per­cent, In­di­ans 5 per­cent and Africans only 4 per­cent.

Land is cen­tral to hu­man ex­is­tence. For mil­len­nia it has sup­ported life, en­abled the cre­ation and de­vel­op­ment of so­ci­eties and made eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity pos­si­ble.

It is fun­da­men­tal to the dig­nity and well-be­ing of our peo­ple. The dis­pos­ses­sion of the land of the in­dige­nous peo­ple of this coun­try is there­fore the orig­i­nal colo­nial sin that con­tin­ues to con­strain the re­al­i­sa­tion of the po­ten­tial of our peo­ple.

The re­turn of the land to those who work it is fun­da­men­tal to the trans­for­ma­tion of our so­ci­ety and it is critical if we are to im­prove the lives of the poor.

Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to ac­cel­er­ate the pace of land re­form. Gov­ern­ment is also com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that land dis­tri­bu­tion is done in a mea­sured man­ner.

Let us re­frain from oc­cu­py­ing land il­le­gally. No­body has any right to in­vade land to vi­o­late other peo­ple’s rights. In­stead let us work to­gether to find just eq­ui­table and last­ing so­lu­tions.

Land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion must be done within the con­fines of the law. We want to re­turn the land to our peo­ple in an or­derly way, in terms of our laws, in terms of our Con­sti­tu­tion, so that ev­ery­body’s rights are pro­tected and ad­vanced.

We will han­dle this mat­ter in the same way we have han­dled all dif­fi­cult is­sues our coun­try has had to han­dle.

We will al­ways seek to do what is in the in­ter­ests of our peo­ple.

Through­out this process, we need to work to­gether, guided by the needs of the poor and land­less.

A new dawn must mean we do things in a proper way, with­out any fraud, cor­rup­tion or vi­o­lat­ing the law.

In this, the Year of Nel­son Man­dela, we need to work to­gether to en­sure his vi­sion for land re­form is re­alised. As gov­ern­ment we are com­mit­ted to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive land re­form pro­gramme that cor­rects the his­tor­i­cal in­jus­tice of land dis­pos­ses­sion, pro­vides land to the poor in both ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas, strength­ens the prop­erty rights of all, in­creases agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and im­proves food se­cu­rity.

As I in­di­cated in the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress, gov­ern­ment will un­der­take a process of broad con­sul­ta­tion to de­ter­mine the modal­i­ties of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this mech­a­nism.

All South Africans are and must par­tic­i­pate in the de­bate about land and come up with so­lu­tions and pro­pos­als that will help take the coun­try for­ward.

It is up to all of us to en­gage with one an­other to drive for mean­ing­ful and sus­tain­able land re­form.

There is a strong case to be made that the use of ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion in cer­tain cir­cum­stances to ad­vance land re­form is en­tirely con­sis­tent with the pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

We will need to de­ter­mine, col­lec­tively, how we can im­ple­ment this mea­sure in a way that pro­motes agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion, im­proves food se­cu­rity, ad­vances ru­ral de­vel­op­ment, re­duces poverty and strength­ens our economy.

For it to serve this pur­pose, we will need to lo­cate this mea­sure within a broad and com­pre­hen­sive land re­dis­tri­bu­tion and agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme.

It is our col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to use the pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion more ef­fec­tively and more di­rectly to drive land re­form with greater ur­gency and pur­pose. We should not re­duce the enor­mous task of land re­form to a de­bate on ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

Dur­ing the process of con­sul­ta­tion and en­gage­ment, we must review the full ex­tent of our land re­form pro­gramme since 1994, iden­ti­fy­ing where there have been short­com­ings and un­der­tak­ing mea­sures to strengthen poli­cies and pro­grammes.

This is an in­clu­sive process one that re­quires re­spon­si­bil­ity and ma­tu­rity from all South Africans.

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