PROMISING: Residents attend a meeting on land reform. People's participation shows the issue is getting the necessary attention, says the writer. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News agency (ANA)
I have been following the public hearing on expropriation of land without compensation.

I must commend members of the public for their participation and the energy they have shown in the robust engagement.

The participation and engagement give one hope that the sensitive issue of land is being given the attention it deserves.

Land reform is not a nice-to-have but a national imperative. For South Africans, land is as precious a commodity as water, and an issue as emotional and as deeply rooted as cultural expression.

Perhaps more than anything else, the ownership of land symbolises our freedom. Land is an economic asset and should be treated as such.

The division about land is evident in the way we, Africans, are addressing the issue among ourselves.

We need to remind ourselves that the hearing is not only about land but economic freedom in our lifetime.

People, especially our poor people, should have access to high-quality basic services that enable them to be well nourished, healthy and increasingly skilled. It’s about breaking the shackles of poverty, employment and inequality.

Wherever our former president is, he is excited about these engagements.

As we celebrate his centenary this year, we are reminded that there is much for us to discuss as we continue to forge a South Africa that brings out the beauty in all of us.

There are many roads to walk, many rivers to cross and many mountains to climb.

It’s not going to be an easy road because there will be challenges and potholes along the way.

As Mandela would say: “After climbing the many hills we climbed together in our attempts to give land to our people, we should not be surprised to find that there are still more hills to conquer, because as leaders we have a responsibility to place the interests of our people first.”

Therefore we should not slumber nor sleep in our quest to redress the landlessness caused by the discriminatory laws of apartheid.

While our journey is very long and cumbersome, we need to be ready to walk the long way to freedom.

* Tshepo Diale, Nkwe Estate.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus