On Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to escalate the pace of redistributing land but warned that land grab will not be tolerated.
Land ownership in South Africa is a sensitive topic and Ramaphosa warned that if it is not addressed as soon as possible, the issue could implode. During a Parliament Q&A he said land reform is an issue that has stayed with the South African nation for hundreds of years now, and it is the historic task of the nation to address this once and for all.
Land reform is pegged as a key battleground in the upcoming 2019 elections, with the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party urging their supporters to seize property. President Ramaphosa, however, has warned against illegal occupation.
“We cannot have a situation where we allow land grab because that is anarchy,” he said. “We will not allow land grabs, we will not allow land invasions.”
The ANC has backed land expropriation without compensation, and last month, lawmakers also backed a motion that could possibly lead to constitutional changes over land reform.
After former president Jacob Zuma’s rule, Ramaphosa has been seen as a pro-business reformist who describes South Africa’s land dispossession as the country’s original sin. He maintains that he is committed to leading a comprehensive land reform programme that will correct the historical injustices of land dispossession.
Ramaphosa supports land expropriation without compensation, as long as it is used to increase food production.
“We cannot have a situation of anarchy when we have proper constitutional means through which we can work to give land to our people,” he said.
While government should forge ahead with its decision to expropriate land without compensation, police should not be idle while people resort to self-help measures as seen in Johannesburg, where illegal land occupations are unfolding.