Government still far from a solution to land redistribution - Times LIVE
   
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Government still far from a solution to land redistribution

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-02-17 00:55:18.0
File photo of Pieter Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus. File photo
Image by: Arnold Pronto

The Times Editorial: Statements by Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder on Wednesday about South Africa's land redistribution have elicited wide reaction - including from President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma sharply rebuked Mulder for his "callous" comments.

On Wednesday, Mulder said that 40% of South Africa's land did not belong to Africans because there was proof that they had not been the original inhabitants of parts of the country.

"Africans never in the past lived in the whole of South Africa. The Bantu-speaking people moved from the equator down while the white people moved from the Cape up to meet each other at the Kei River.

"There is sufficient proof that there were no Bantu-speaking people in Western Cape and north-western Cape. These parts form 40% of South Africa's land surface," Mulder said.

Even on Wednesday, Mulder's comments - widely regarded as hugely insensitive about a highly contentious and emotive issue - drew jeers and complaints.

And, judging from Zuma's reaction, Mulder's words stung deeply.

"We urge Mulder to tread very carefully on this matter. It is extremely sensitive and to the majority of people in this country it is a matter of life and death. That is why we have been very careful in this matter and I don't think we should provoke emotions."

Though Mulder's comments came across as callous and crude, the broader point of South Africa's land question needs urgent attention.

Zuma received huge applause when he said that the current "willing-seller, willing-buyer" mechanism had not worked in ensuring a fair distribution of land.

Land is indeed an emotive issue - not only in South Africa. The Zimbabwean example is indeed a harsh lesson.

Though Zuma is correct in saying that emotions should not be provoked, his government needs to find a balanced solution. The quicker this happens, the better for us all.

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