Land reform in SA is legal, moral and totally necessary

If the democratic government of the day fails to take corrective action to address the harm that resulted from the racist apartheid era, it would become a scar that will deface our freedom and democracy forever, and that is totally undesirable, the writer says.
If the democratic government of the day fails to take corrective action to address the harm that resulted from the racist apartheid era, it would become a scar that will deface our freedom and democracy forever, and that is totally undesirable, the writer says.
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As minister of international relations and co-operation I have found myself in the rather peculiar position of having to explain my country's policies on several issues.

Interested parties range from staff of international organisations to foreign ministers of friendly and less friendly countries.

One subject that has attracted wide interest is the land reform policy of SA. There are organisations travelling the world labelling our democratic government as uncaring and destructive in land reform policy.

The various views that have been expressed are surprisingly divorced from the imperatives of justice and human rights that are relevant to the reform we must pursue.

There are critical rejoinders that need to be conveyed to politicians the world over.

Firstly, given the denial of basic civil liberties and socio-economic rights that was the lived reality of millions of black South Africans under apartheid, the government has a legal and indeed, a moral obligation to implement measures that will reduce poverty and inequality.

Lack of land ownership, the absence of rights of tenure for the black majority are patently evidence of historical injustice for a democratic SA not to take corrective action.

The harm that resulted from that racist era would become a scar that will deface our freedom and democracy forever and that is totally undesirable.

The desire for land is felt acutely by the previously oppressed majority alongside their belief that all South Africans should have access to land ownership and the right to work their land.

The government has committed to acting on this land hunger in a lawful manner that is in full accord with the constitution of SA.

Most reasonable people and institutions that seek to develop solutions to redress the injustices of the past, which includes reducing abject poverty among millions of black people, agree that continued unequal access to land prevents the majority of our citizens from enjoying human dignity, human rights and security.

The right to dignity is an important component of SA's constitutional framework. Facilitating more equitable access to land is vital and unavoidable for gaps in incomes, assets and opportunities that failure to act would give rise to high levels of political and social instability and negative economic consequences for current and future generations of South Africans, irrespective of race.

The government of SA's policy on land reform is therefore, legally compliant with its national and international obligations, is morally just and reasonable.

Any persons or institutions that seek to inhibit us from implementing measures to ensure land is accessible to all South Africans, in the interests of all South Africans, is therefore unreasonable and manifestly immoral.

The tone and intention of the international lobbying by AfriForum and its leaders are aimed at ensuring that the results of decades of injustice continues unabated.

They are lobbying for a society marred by high levels of poverty and inequality and its attendant social ills.

We would humbly submit to the US government and other governments that are being lobbied by AfriForum and its leaders that this organisation represents a tiny minority of people whose views are out of kilter with the vast majority of South Africans of all races.

We would urge the US government and other governments to instead, listen to the views of the majority of South Africans of all races who have a shared vision of a more equal, prosperous, peaceful and a just SA.

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