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Land issue must be addressed, but without dividing the nation: Mogoeng

24 November 2018 - 17:30 By BONGANI MTHETHWA
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has weighed in on the sensitive issue of land which he described as a “monumental challenge”, saying it must be resolved in the memory of the first African Nobel peace prize winner and former ANC president Chief Albert Luthuli.

Addressing the 14th Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday, Mogoeng said the land issue, racism and exclusion of African people from the mainstream economy were the most critical challenges facing South Africa.

“I observed that there are some of us who are traversing the globe seeking to conscientise the global community about why is it supposed to be good and acceptable that the status quo in relation to land ownership and the ownership of the wealth of South Africa ought to be maintained. But here lies the question: where are the victims of landlessness and exclusion from meaningful participation of the economy? Where is their voice?”

Mogoeng told his audience that solutions to the land question in South Africa in memory of Luthuli must be inclusive and about securing enduring peace, stability and shared prosperity. 

“We all know that Chief Albert Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of his unwavering commitment to the resolution of challenges, however taxing or frustrating, by peaceful means to address challenges relating to land use and ownership in Africa.

“This solutions we propose in his memory must be inclusive securing enduring peace, stability and shared prosperity. But our starting point in that journey ought to be a connection with the views on land and the relationship between landlessness and poverty and hopelessness,” said Mogoeng.

He said African people need more land now - as they did 50 years ago - and that the land issue was not a matter to be “romanticised.”.

“It is a matter that should not be romanticised. It is a matter that must be addressed  but without dividing the South African nation.  Chief Albert Luthuli’s philosophy of freedom. land ownership and poverty eradication transcended the borders of South Africa. It was truly pan-Africanist in character.

“It is therefore not surprising that the theme for this year is geared at securing lasting solutions in relation to land ownership and land use for the entire continent. Modern day South Africa, similarly, should be consumed by the desire to land solutions for the entire African continent,” said Mogoeng.

He said South Africa should pour her energies and collective wisdom in “endeavours that will result in sensible, humane and just land ownership patterns, sustainable and beneficial land use by all, shared prosperity and enduring peace”.

“The major challenge that confronted almost all African countries is the land issue. In fact, one would not be exaggerating to say that the struggle was primarily about the dispossession of African people of their land. Gross injustices took place in relation to the land issue.  Land and wealth ownership in Africa is overwhelmingly in the hands of our former colonisers or their descendants.

“The natives of Africa are largely landless, marginalised, poor and ignored and at times even despised by those whose ancestry through unjust and indefensible means acquired their land. In honour of the memory of Inkosi Albert Luthuli we must resolve this historic challenge, this monumental injustice, this abuse of the fundamental human right of the African people. Land ownership accompanied by properly guided and funded diligent usage equals wealth ownership.”

Mogoeng has proposed a world-wide campaign to conscientise the global community about the injustice and the devastating effect of landlessness and virtual exclusion of the African people from meaningful participation in the mainstream of economies in Africa.

“War is not an option. Strategies that militate against peace and instability are also not an option but silence in the face of life-threatening and dehumanising migration, abject poverty and landlessness are also not an option. As Chief Albert Luthuli would have done, African people must pursue meaningful, purposeful and truly intentional  dialogue with those who own land and the sworn defenders of the status quo. Internal and global campaigns must also be waged concertedly and tirelessly until normalcy is returned.”

He said he had spent time engaging with  African and white people about the critical challenges confronting South Africa which were the land issue, racism and exclusion from the meaningful participation in the economy.

“Initially there was resistance but as soon as you demonstrate convincingly that as a matter of fact it is for the common good for all of us that we vigorously pursue, enjoy peace and stability founded on the truth in order to resolve the land issue and economic issue and the race issue, people begin to sober up and warm up to the possibility of jointly pursuing and finding a solution.

“Don’t mislead one another. I am open to my white compatriots because I love them genuinely whether they believe it or not. But I am not going to say to them there is no racism in South Africa. There is. Otherwise the previously excluded from the mainstream economy would after 24 years be captains of industries in their numbers.

“Now that we live in a democratic order the time has come for us to sacrifice. But because people are not willing to sacrifice in order to address both the economy and land issue, there will never be peace,” said Mogoeng.