'We have geared ourselves to confront the land question head-on': Mabuza
Deputy President David Mabuza on Friday said land deprivation strips people of their national identity, heritage and ability to develop and progress.
“Our struggle for liberation was principally centred on the injustices of land dispossession and deprivation and the indignity of forced removals of people from the land of their birth.”
Mabuza — in his capacity as chair of the interministerial committee on land reform — was speaking at the two-day communal land administration and tenure summit in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.
“In the broader struggles for liberation and democratisation, traditional leaders played a critical role in the fight against land dispossessions by the colonial and apartheid system.
“The land question remains firmly on the agenda of government’s transformation programme and this has continued to feature strongly in our engagements with the institution of traditional and Khoi-San leadership.
“We have geared ourselves to confront the land question head-on by using all constitutionally compliant instruments and mechanisms of transformation.
“We are at the crossroads. One possibly leading to anarchy and destruction and the other leading to [a] carefully guided land reform programme that ensures strategic land acquisition, land redistribution and restitution of land to its rightful owners and those who need it for development,” Mabuza said.
While the government accepted land reform was a complex and emotive matter, it affirmed its determination to go ahead, he said.
“More importantly, land tenure reform remains a critical component of our land reform programme. Not only is accelerated land reform a necessary condition for restorative justice, but it is a precondition for forging unity and social cohesion across the nation.
“Government is committed to ensuring our land reform programme delivers on the aspirations of ordinary people.”
While the summit’s scope is to cover land administration and tenure in communal areas, the government is aware of the need to effect land transformation beyond 13% of communal land under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders, he said.
“We will proceed with available policy and legislative instruments that will assist in the acquisition of more land for redistribution and expansion of communal land, especially in areas where land has been expropriated in the public interest.”
Mabuza said the summit must deliberate on how the land should be administered and address which forms of tenure will be appropriate for and consistent with customary norms and practises of different communities.
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