ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa virtually delivered the party’s January 8 Statement on Friday night. IMAGE: SABC

CHARLES MOLELE

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa says his administration is intent on accelerating land redistribution and rural development in South Africa this year, including responding to a call for the expropriation of privately owned land without compensation for distribution.

Ramaphosa outlined his party’s land reform plans during the ANC’s virtual 109th birthday celebrations, where he delivered the annual January 8 Statement on Friday night.

The land reform process remains a contentious issue in South Africa, with some sections of the society arguing that the expropriation of land without compensation was a clear violation of constitutionally guaranteed property rights, a travesty of the country’s rule of law and a rerun of Zimbabwe’s disastrous land grab policies, where white farmers were driven off their land through violence and terror.

In his virtual address, Ramaphosa, however, said land reform in South Africa was central to meeting the aspirations of the Freedom Charter and to redressing the wrongs of the past.

He announced that Parliament was expected to approve an amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution, clearly outlining the circumstances in which land may be expropriated without compensation.

Characteristically, Ramaphosa emphasized an orderly process, saying the redistribution of land in South Africa was expected to be done in a manner that promotes economic growth and sustains food security.

“This will give effect to an important resolution of our 54th National Conference and will contribute to the acceleration of land reform,” said Ramaphosa.  

“This needs to take place alongside a comprehensive land reform programme that, among other things, draws on long-standing ANC resolutions and on the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.”

Ramaphosa added that government also intends to strengthen existing policies to ensure fair and equitable redistribution of land.

He said these policies include the National Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy, which has a targeted focus on women, youth and persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups.  

He also said that the Land Donations Policy, on the other hand, encouraged those with under-utilised land, such as mines, businesses and churches, to donate land.

Ramaphosa also announced that this year a focus will also be on resolving security of tenure that affects millions of South Africans through the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill, as well as on speeding up the outstanding claims of labour tenants.

(SOURCE: INSIDE POLITICS)

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