Durban – The ANC should use its majority in the government to push for the expropriation of land without compensation, because it was “stolen in the first place”, Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo said on Monday.
Dlodlo was addressing a 2017 Land Colloquium event held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.
“We are the majority party in the government, and the time has come that we used our might to push for a new dispensation on land reform.
“We must seriously explore the route of expropriating land without compensation,” she said.
Dlodlo had been invited to deliver her presentation on behalf of the ANC.
She shared the stage with AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
Dlodlo said the government should fast-track doing away with purchasing land based on market price, and the willing buyer, willing seller policy because “primarily what is being sold was stolen in the first place”.
“The burden of land ownership should never be ours. Those who today claim ownership must prove that land was actually paid for in the 17th and 18th centuries,” she said.
She said ANC MPs were working tirelessly on bringing the Expropriation Bill, which had been sent back to Parliament for reconsideration, into law.
Once the bill was passed it would give Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti the right to expropriate, she said.
Delivering the State of the Nation Address last week, President Jacob Zuma said it would be difficult and impossible to “achieve true reconciliation until the land question has been resolved”.
“Our pursuit of economic justice through resolution of the land question can no longer be a dream of tomorrow, but a reality of today,” said Dlodlo.
Dlodlo said it was inexcusable that “after the third decade of our freedom”, the state still only owned 14% of the land, whereas 79% was in private hands, “which by all accounts point to white people”.
“As the government, we now more than ever, call to take the bull by its horns and return the land to its rightful owners.
“Our government has to do so not because it has now become fashionable to sing and dance about land, but because the time has come that the majority of our people benefit equally from the resources provided by their own land, and to move towards closing the cycle of revolution so many died for,” she said.
Historian Professor Jabulani Maphalala also lashed out at the current redistribution policy, which limits black people to only claiming land that was taken from them after 1913. He said blacks had been dispossessed of their land since as far back as the arrival of whites in the country.
“Most of the Western Cape is in the hands of foreigners. The whole wineland area is owned by white people. Why do we have to produce evidence?” asked Maphalala.
Dlamini Zuma said African countries should use the land productively, by producing raw material and processing it into end products here, on the continent, instead of exporting it to other continents.
“Africa has land, but we are not using it to make sure that there is security with nutrition of food,” she said.