By Mbeki Andrew
South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma has weighed in on the ongoing land reform debate, urging the government to quickly implement the policy of ‘expropriation of land without compensation’.
In two videos posted on his Twitter account, Zuma said the land reforms are necessary because nearly all of the problems faced by South Africans can be traced back to the question of land.
‘‘You must know that the ills of the black people in South Africa…the bigger portion of it emanates from the land dispossession,’‘ argued Zuma.
‘‘You solve the problem of the land, you’ll solve the poverty in this country, inequalities and the economic issues.’‘
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and the opposition Economic Fredom Fighters (EFF) are pushing for the amendment of the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.
Land is a contentious issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.
Zuma, who was president of South Africa from 2009 until 2018, also called out the ‘willing-seller, willing-buyer’ policy that the ANC used in the past to address the land question.
‘‘If we want to keep the land, and sell it to people who have got no money, you are prolonging the problem, a painful problem to the people.’‘
He then went on to explain that the ANC now seeks to redistribute the land by requiring those who own ‘large stretches of land’ to share it with indigenous black who owned this land before.
He also backed the framers of the Freedom Charter who called for nationalisation of land, arguing that land is such a valuable resource to be sold to private individuals or companies.
It should rather be leased to people for profitable use.
‘‘Land is an important resource for the nation. That’s why the debate must be frank and straight. And we must resolve the matter.’‘
Another ex-president, Thabo Mbeki, described the ongoing ANC land reforms as ‘racist’ in September last year.
The ANC has previously resolved to reach out to the two ex-presidents, whom it accuses of raising views that contradict ANC’s policies.