Land reform failure started with Mandela, says advocate Ngcukaitobi
The democratic government’s mismanagement of land redistribution started with Nelson Mandela, charged activist and advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi.
He was speaking during a panel discussion on land, organised by the University of Fort Hare’s law school on Wednesday night.
Ngcukaitobi, who often represents the EFF in court, accused Mandela of failing to honour his promise to transfer 30% of all commercial farms to black people during his first five years in office. Addressing a packed hall of students, academics and others, Ngcukaitobi said that at the end of Madiba’s term in 1999, only 0,7% of the land had been transferred.
A 2016 report from the department of rural development and agrarian reform revealed that only 7% of land had been transferred to black people so far, said Ngcukaitobi.
He said Mandela would be remembered as the great liberator of the 20th century, but his legacy as president would always be debated.
“According to Ruth Hall, the professor of social studies in the University of Western Cape, if we continue in the current trajectory, it would take us 140 years to transfer the 30% to black people.
“When the politicians come for our votes, we must ask them the difficult questions of their failure to hold the apartheid leaders, and the apartheid beneficiaries accountable for black suffering.”
Ngcukaitobi said today’s demand for land was a demand for citizenship because land was an expression of citizenship. Asking the crowd, in this context, whether SA belonged to all those who lived in it, the audience responded with a chorus “No!”
“How come we have citizens without a stake in their own country,” asked Ngcukaitobi to big applause.
Ngcukaitobi said the most ferocious impact of the passing of the 1913 Land Act was felt in the Free State, Natal and Eastern Transvaal, where black land owners were turned into farm labourers.
“People were never forced off their lands on those farms by whites but stayed and instead they were moved from being owner to labourer, owner to squatter and owner to tenant.”
He said black people were turned into free labour, unpaid and restricted in acquiring property or to buy land.
In his wide-ranging talk, Ngcukaitobi said it was very questionable that despite apartheid being declared by the international community as a crime against humanity in 1971, there were no criminals convicted of this crime...