Not enough progress on land issue

The writer says it is time to give details to the public of how land expropriation would be carried out.
The writer says it is time to give details to the public of how land expropriation would be carried out.
Image: File

As we celebrated Heritage Day yesterday, it was encouraging to hear President Cyril Ramaphosa stick to his promises about the return of land as he said, "our identity is closely linked to the question of land".

"Our history, our identity as South Africans is closely linked to the question of land and it is for that reason that we say that land must be returned to our people because that is what really shapes our identity," the president said to loud cheers as he delivered his speech in Upington, Northern Cape yesterday.

Ramaphosa said land formed a big part of people's identity and since it was taken from them, it was necessary to return and restore land to the poor for either farming, housing or business.

Land expropriation without compensation grabbed attention and raised emotions when it was proclaimed as policy by the governing ANC. It was one of the highlights from the party's elective conference in 2017 and it resonated with the landless majority.

There has been a bit of progress since then.

In June, Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza received a report on land reform from the advisory panel that was set up in September last year to look into the issue.

The panel's role was to help the inter-ministerial committee on land reform, chaired by Mabuza, to review, research and suggest models for the government to implement a fair and equitable land reform process that redresses injustices of the past, among other things.

A month later, the National Assembly also passed a motion to establish an ad hoc committee to draft a constitutional amendment to allow for expropriation without compensation.

Ramaphosa's speech gave hope because that is what the public wants to hear. People are suffering. They need land to live, farm and work on.

That was an emotional moment for the majority as the president was basically saying I have not forgotten my promises. But was it enough?

Mr President, it is the time to give details to the public of how this expropriation would be carried out.

We have heard the plan for almost two years now. We now need more details and action.

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