DAVOS-KLOSTERS - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made an emotional moral argument for government's land reform policy as he faced up to members of the international media at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Ramaphosa insisted that land grabs would not be tolerated and that land expropriation would be carried out in an orderly manner and within the framework of the law.
He conceded that the issue of land reform had generated a great deal of interest globally as well as a lot of debate inside the country, but said it was necessary to ensure redress for historical injustices.
"This we articulated at various foras throughout the world and have given clear assurances that we are not going to allow land grabs in South Africa," said Ramaphosa.
"Land reform is going to be handled in terms of our Constitution, but as it is being handled, we are going to take care that those of our people who were denied the right to own land, get equity.
"Everything should be done on an equitable basis and that is the only way we are going to ensure that South Africa does indeed become a prosperous country and where all the people of our country benefit from what South Africa has to offer in the way of a better life for all.
"I think we are on a good path."
Ramaphosa outlined the process of public consultations and the Constitutional framework, saying: "The land issue has ceased to be the ugly ogre that many people thought it would be. It isn't. It is very much in line with our transformation process of making South Africa better, of making it an investable destination."
Ramaphosa, who was flanked by key members of his Cabinet, took the lead on the land reform issue, praising South Africans for the "most wonderful debate through the length and breadth of our country" during last year's public hearings on amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
In December, Parliament passed a motion for the Constitutional amendment and Ramaphosa was at pains to say: "We have been very clear that the issue of land in South Africa will be handled in accordance with the rule of law, in accordance with our Constitution.
"All this will be done in seeking to ensure that there is security of tenure, not only for a few South Africans, but all South Africans," he added. "Our past regime of land ownership only gave security of tenure to a few South Africans. We are saying, in order to have social justice, in order to be equitable to all the people of South Africa, security of tenure must be made available to all."
Ramaphosa added that once investors had been briefed on government's approach to the emotive issue of land reform, "they have been rather relaxed because we have been very honest, open and straightforward".
"We have not had any hidden agenda and I would say it is for that reason that at our investment conference we were able to talk to investors about our approach to land reform and they were able to make investments that came up to $20 billion," he said.
- African News Agency (ANA)