President Jacob Zuma called for unity among “black political parties” and black South Africans to deal with the issue of land‚ when he addressed the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders on Friday.
Zuma said the time to talk and analyse the land debate was over. The country needed concrete results. He touched on the ongoing land debate and mentioned “radical economic transformation” when he called on traditional leaders to support the government in its attempt to achieve this.
“When we talk about radical change‚ the time to talk‚ write and analyse is past. It’s time for action‚ concrete action. This is a matter I believe the majority [of] blacks generally and Africans in particular‚ is not a matter to quarrel about. It is not a matter to disagree about. If we do so we will not be putting together our strength. We need to be united on this matter‚” said Zuma.
His remarks come a few days after the African National Congress rejected a motion by the Economic Freedom Fighters for the expropriation of land without compensation.
ANC leaders have also differed on the land matter and proposals to amend section 25 of the Constitution‚ with some expressing their disappointment in the ANC for voting against the motion.
Zuma said a two-thirds majority was needed to address the problem of land. “Parties should work together. Black parties on this issue should unite‚” he said. “We can’t fight over nothing and not deal with the real issues‚ when we are where laws are made and waste time instead of creating legal institutions (to address the land).”
He said the governing party had identified the “weaknesses” in land restitution and redistribution.
“The willing buyer‚ willing seller principle did not work effectively. It made the state a price taker in an unfair process. In addition‚ there are too many laws dealing with land reform‚ which cause confusion and delays‚” said Zuma.
He said beneficiaries can claim land today “and by the time your people get it you’ll be dead”.
“The fact remains that land hunger is real. This is not surprising as this was the fundamental question at the centre of the liberation struggle‚” said Zuma.
The government was also looking at a “possible redesign” and establishment of national land claims commission as a chapter nine institution “so that it can have necessary powers to help us reverse this historical injustice”.
“This will also require a constitutional amendment. All of this will require unity and common purpose and action in the country to ensure redress and meaningful reconciliation not artificial reconciliation‚” said Zuma.