President Cyril Ramaphosa has stressed that the country will not succeed in creating a shared future if it does not eradicate the concentration of land ownership, which he said was a heinous crime committed against black people.
Ramaphosa was speaking on Friday in the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal where he was delivering a keynote address at the Inclusive Growth Conference, which was organised by the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation.
The three-day conference – which continues until tomorrow- has brought together some of the country’s prominent thought leaders to discuss the future of the country’s economy and state of governance.
Ramaphosa said while the country had just over two decades since the dawn of democracy, this seemed like a lifetime for those who continued to bear the brunt of apartheid exclusion, adding that the country had no other choice but to tackle injustices of the past to be able to move forward.
“Our democracy will soon be 25 years old and in the broad sweep of human history, it is just but a moment, but for nearly half of our population these 25 years are a lifetime. Soon there will be many South Africans born in a democratic South Africa as there are born under apartheid. Although these young people did not grow up under apartheid – for most of their lives they have to leave with this legacy.
“If we are to liberate ourselves from the shackles of the past as well as the troubles of the present – and there are many troubles that our country is going through right now – we must be prepared to dream about a share future or all our people,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said even global institutions including the World Bank have highlighted the continued impact of apartheid exclusion on South Africa’s current poverty levels and inequalities.
The banks’ 2018 diagnostic report on poverty and inequality found that poverty and employment levels we directly linked to the country’s past of exclusion, especially in areas of land, capital and labour.
“They identify skewed distribution of land. That is the World Bank, which is also saying the issue of land has to be addressed. The persistent legacy of exclusion makes it difficult to build the post-apartheid social contract.
“The diagnostic also identifies key binding constraints that reflect the root causes in tackling poverty and they deal with insufficient skills as one of them, which takes us back to our very sad past where apartheid or Bantu education really damaged the prospects of our country,” he said.
He said while one of the achievements of the country’s young democracy was the establishment of durable institutions to help advance the interests of South Africans, recent years have seen many of the institutions rendered useless by state capture.
“The process of state capture – with all its attendant political, legal and economic consequences – has eroded the capabilities of several institutions and undermined public confidence in their ability to promote their interests.
“We have begun the task of restoring the integrity and credibility of several institutions to ensure that they are able to effectively fulfil their mandate without undue interference. We depend on these institutions to mediate the distribution of power and resources across society in a manner that is fair, progressive and based in law,” he said.