Former president Zuma warns of bloodshed if land issue is not resolved
Former president Jacob Zuma has issued a stern warning that if the sensitive issue of land is not resolved‚ the country could be plunged into a bloodshed and that black people will be punished by their ancestors.
He was delivering a keynote address at a gala dinner to honour him‚ which was organised by the National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA (Nafupa-SA) at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban on Thursday night.
Nafupa-SA has been accused of fanning racial prejudice by banning white and Indian business owners from operating in the townships.
Zuma told his audience that the dispossession of land from African people had brought about poverty‚ hunger and homelessness as they had depended on it for their survival for many years.
“It’s not God who made us suffer as African people. We were rich‚ we had land and we farmed. And then there was a process to take the land away from us. We were forced to leave our land and go look for jobs in urban areas. The dispossession of land is what brought about poverty‚ hunger and homelessness‚” he said.
Zuma said if the issue of land was not resolved “our ancestors will punish us and say‚ because you were more sophisticated than us with education and even arms‚ why did you not address this issue? And it will be difficult to answer that question.
“Now when you say our land must be given back you’re accused of being aggressive. In other words the person who says you’re aggressive is saying it’s okay for us to be subjected to poverty and hunger and be like worse than a slave in your country.”
“Even countries which were oppressed like us do not have the problem we have in this country. The problem we have in this country is that it is so beautiful‚ the settlers fell in love with it when they arrived. We’re not saying colonial settlers must go‚ we’re saying the matter of land must be corrected‚” said Zuma.
He said the late ANC president Chief Albert Luthuli‚ who had advocated non-violent protest against apartheid‚ had later changed his mind in favour of the armed struggle against apartheid.
“Luthuli once said that in demanding our freedom we are knocking at the door. However‚ he said our generation will not knock at the door but destroy the door. Luthuli was very respected and talked about the struggle without bloodshed.
“But in the end Luthuli and other leaders took a decision that we’re now changing our struggle and we will shed blood‚ and formed Umkhonto weSizwe. I don’t think we need to reach that point again. We need to resolve the issue of land and it should not be difficult to [do] that‚” said Zuma.
He said it was precisely because of that reason that while he was president he decided to reopen the land claims process‚ because he did not understand why land claimants were given 1913 as the cut-off date when their land had been dispossessed even prior to that.
“That’s why I decided to reopen the land claims because there were people‚ like me from Nkandla‚ who were not even aware of the process and who heard after the cut-off and were told that the could not claim their land because the process had been closed but yet they could see the land that was dispossessed from them.”
Zuma said the land was dispossessed shortly after the arrival of Dutch navigator and colonial administrator Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town in 1652.
However‚ his decision to reopen the land claims process was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court‚ which found that the public consultations did not meet the standards set in the constitution.