Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa says he will commission a study into what has been done with farms that have been redistributed since 1994.

Speaking after a meeting in the Abathembu kingdom near East London, ahead of the ANC’s 106 anniversary celebrations this weekend, Ramaphosa said that many of the farms that had been returned since 1994 were "derelict". He said an "agriculture revolution" was needed to ensure that land reform resulted in a productive outcome.

"Many of those farms are not being worked. I am going to order a study to be made on all the returned agricultural land and what we can do with that agricultural land to change things [for the] better," he said.

Ramaphosa’s comments are particularly apt in the context of the wider debate over land reform in which it has been argued that it is not the need for compensation that has resulted in failed land reform, but the implementation of land-reform policies.

"Let us work this land. Let us demonstrate to ourselves to start with that we can actually work the land. Let us demonstrate to all that we are ready to revolutionise agriculture in
our land and that we are ready to go into agroprocessing and that we are ready to set up industrial nodes all over in the rural areas in our country," Ramaphosa said.

The ANC resolved at its national conference in December in Johannesburg that it would initiate amendments to the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation. To do so it will require the support of a section of the opposition to meet the two-thirds threshold. The EFF has previously promised to put its 6% at the ANC’s disposal for
this purpose.

Ramaphosa, as the newly elected ANC president, undertook in his closing remarks to the conference to lead the implementation of the policy.

His comments on Thursday were the first substantive remarks on land reform since his election. Details of the policy, are sketchy. It was agreed on at the 11th hour after debate that was so heated that it "almost collapsed the conference".

While the ANC placed some provisos on the conditions under which land may be expropriated, the wording of the final resolution on land reform is yet to be released by the ANC.

Speaking at the conference, outgoing ANC economic policy head Enoch Godongwana said that care would be taken to ensure that neither food security nor the financial sector, to which farmers are heavily indebted, were negatively affected by the ANC’s expropriation policy. Ramaphosa echoed this in his remarks and said that where appropriate land ownership would be restored without compensation, but in such a way that agricultural production was increased.

"To anybody who stands in the way of the implementation of ANC policies we say we will push you out of the way."

Ramaphosa said the ANC leadership was determined and prepared to work hard for the interests of the people.

"We are not working for a few people. We are not working for a few families," he said in a side swipe at former ANC president Jacob Zuma, who has been accused of allowing the state to be captured by the Gupta family.

Ramaphosa told the audience that "thieves (amasela) must
be thrown out and that those who steal must steal among themselves and not steal the state’s money".

Before meeting members of the Abathembu kingdom, Ramaphosa also met members of the family of Nelson Mandela at Qunu, before his address on Saturday in East London.