Picture: JOHN FEDELE
Picture: JOHN FEDELE

The land reform programme must be guided by sound legal and economic principles, and must contribute to the country’s overall job creation and investment objectives, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.

The land issue has dominated political discourse in recent months, amid a new push for expropriation without compensation. The ANC agreed at its conference in December to push for amendments to the Constitution that will pave the way for the government to expropriate land without compensation — a move that observers say will spook investors.

On Tuesday afternoon, the National Assembly was due to consider a draft resolution by EFF leader Julius Malema on expropriation of land without compensation.

Speaking in Parliament to officially open the National House of Traditional Leaders, Ramaphosa said the land issue was critical, emotive and very sensitive.

"Land dispossession is a defining feature of colonialism and apartheid in SA. Land hunger among black South Africans is genuine and pressing. The time has arrived that we act decisively to resolve this matter. We must repair the damage inflicted upon our people," Ramaphosa said.

"The time has arrived that we act decisively to resolve this matter. We must repair the damage inflicted upon our people."

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday, February 27 2018 that land will be expropriated without compensation but with great wisdom and skill.

Ramaphosa also said that as part of the measures to accelerate land redistribution, the ANC had resolved, at its conference in December, that where appropriate and justifiable, land would be expropriated without compensation.

"The programme of land reform must have clear targets and timeframes, be guided by sound legal and economic principles and must contribute to the country’s overall job creation and investment objectives.

"By providing more land to more producers for cultivation, and by providing the necessary support, we are laying the foundation for an agricultural revolution," Ramaphosa said.

The government was determined to work with traditional leaders to significantly expand agriculture, not only to ensure food security, but to create jobs on a significant scale and increase the value of exports, said Ramaphosa.

He said the institution of traditional leadership was a bedrock of SA’s constitutional democracy.

"It remains a vital resource in the hands of our people to repair the social fabric that colonialism and apartheid sought to destroy. It remains a potent instrument bequeathed to us by our ancestors to achieve accelerated, inclusive social and economic development.

"To best serve the interests of the most vulnerable of our citizens requires an understanding that traditional authority exists not for its own sake, but to improve the lives of our people. It requires that we affirm and support the historical and contemporary interdependence between our kings, queens and chiefs and the people they lead," the President said.

The National House of Traditional Leaders is a body comprising traditional leaders who are delegates from the provincial houses of traditional leaders, whose functions include promoting the role of traditional leadership, enhancing unity and understanding among traditional communities, and advising the government on matters that may affect traditional communities.