President Cyril Ramaphosa replying to questions from members of parliament on Tuesday. PHOTO: Phando Jikelo/ANA Photo
PARLIAMENT - South Africans opposed to sharing land with the landless must stand up and be counted, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday as he defended government's intention to expropriate land without compensation.

In reply to a question in the National Assembly, Ramaphosa said the issue of land that had been "taken away by force from the majority of our people" during the racist apartheid government prior to 1994 remained "a deep wound inflicted on our people".

Ramaphosa said the concept of the 1955 Freedom Charter stating "the land shall be shared among those who work it" was a demand landless South Africans would not relent on.

"Our people must be able to share the land and I'd like those who say the land must not be shared to stand up and say we are not prepared to share the land.because that is the most important...most reasonable demand from our people," he said.

"They [landless] are not saying we want land to the exclusion of everyone else."

Ramaphosa extended an invitation to critics, including those who have raised alarm abroad, to join the debate on land reform so an all-inclusive solution to the divisive land problem could be found.

"Our task...even for those who are seeking to go around the world to mobilise the international community against their own country, I want to say to you come back, let us sit around the table, let us find a solution on this issue of land."

Violent clashes between police and land invaders have taken place in areas across South Africa over the past few weeks.

Ramaphosa said this will not be tolerated.

"We will not allow anarchy and disorder in South Africa when it comes to resolving issues of land....violence is not the way to resolve the land question at all."

Ramaphosa said the need for land was not going away any time soon.

He had this message for land reform critics: "For people who think that the issue of land in South Africa will be swept under the carpet, I say 'wake up my friend, smell the coffee' - it is not going to happen."

African News Agency/ANA