ANC warned: Put land reform on top of agenda – or face consequences from voters

DNA tests prove human beings are 99.9% identical. So I’m in RW Johnson’s camp when he says there is no such thing as race. Differences which exist between members of our species stem from environment and culture – not from how we are wired. Yet those who would profit from it, persist in highlighting race as a differentiator, which is just sad. “Land reform” has become another convenient political football. With heightened hypocrisy, too. Massive tracts of un-utilised lands controlled by traditional leaders are not up for “reform”. But, like Zimbabwe, all white farms are, even if they happened to have legally acquired and paid for decades before. The self-righteous justification is that at somewhere in the past, ancestors of today’s farmers “stole” the land from the ancestors of others. And that date of the theft keeps shifting. President Jacob Zuma says the infamous 1913 Lands Act can no longer be used as the starting point. Because, he argued this week, very little land changed hands after it – so he simply backdates it to some undetermined date in the 1800s. South Africa’s first national census was done in 1904 at which time the country’s entire population was 5.2m (of whom just over a million were whites – 21.6%). As there are now ten times more of us (whites – 8.8%), it’s hard to conceptualise this huge country with so few people. Back then the vast plains were occupied by wild animals which migrated freely. Very little land was “owned” much less farmed in the modern sense. There has been ample time since the dawn of SA’s democracy to highlight where abuses occurred. Yet politicians and those they listen to persist in pounding a hypocritical land distribution drum which only serves to feed fear and greed. What a pity they use this as a tool to highlight the 0.1% where people differ. Rather than following the example of the iconic Nelson Mandela who focused on the 99.9% to forge a nation. – Alec Hogg

By Naledi Shange, News24

Johannesburg – The ANC must implement its land reform policies quickly or they will be overtaken by opposition parties.

This was the stern warning given to the ruling party by political analyst Somadoda Fikeni, of the University of South Africa, as he reminded the ANC of their promise to implement radical economic transformation.

Supporters of South Africa's ruling ANC party cheer as South Africa's President and party leader Jacob Zuma (not seen) arrives for the launch of the party's election manifesto at the Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, January 11, 2014. REUTERS/Ihsaan Haffejee (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
File photo: Supporters of South Africa’s ruling ANC party cheer as South Africa’s President and party leader Jacob Zuma (not seen) arrives for the launch of the party’s election manifesto at the Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, January 11, 2014. REUTERS/Ihsaan Haffejee

“If the ruling party doesn’t move fast, in a self-automated process, these things will happen; other contesting political parties will amplify them even if they are not in government in a manner that they simply take the same programmes and hone them and articulate them in the simplest form, in the crudest form, so that everybody will simply say ‘here is the message’,” Fikeni said.

“So there is a sense of urgency in the point of government.”

He was speaking at a round-table discussion held at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters in Johannesburg.

Read also: Anthea Jeffery: Creeping land nationalisation no poverty solution

Revolution in danger

The meeting was attended by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, ANC political education sub-committee chairperson Nathi Mthethwa, and former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, in his capacity of head of the ANC’s political school.

Mthethwa echoed Fikeni’s sentiments.

“If we do not do what we say we should do… indeed our revolution will be in danger,” he said.

Nkwinti said one of the things that had caused delays in the implementation of land claims and redistribution was the burden of proof that lay with the land claimants.

“We have to look at the law itself. Does it fairly represent the acquisition of the law of that land?”

He said this would be resolved through new laws that would balance the scales against both – those who currently occupy the land and those who claim to have previously owned it.

Read also: House of Parly passes ‘no consent’ Land Reform – ANC lags targeted repatriation

Sensitive issue

Nkwinti admitted that there had been delays in the process of land reform, saying government had also made some mistakes, but that they were working to fix this.

He described the issue of land as a “sensitive one”.

Fikeni stressed that the issue of land grabs in South Africa was nothing new.

He claimed that, while many feared that South Africa would be like Zimbabwe if it agreed to land grabs, South Africa had seen land grabs in the early 1990s, before Zimbabwe.

“The pressure was already there, but it had an urban orientation or twist to it, whereas in Zimbabwe it was with the farmers and the government was involved.

“So we should dispel the myth that people were waiting for some law somewhere to distribute land,” he said – News24


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