ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: @MYANC/Twitter

Durban – Newly-elected African National Congress president Cyril Ramaphosa has told Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini that the ANC’s policy of land expropriation without compensation should not be done in a way that harms the South African economy.

“Taking land should not be equal to destroying our economy,” Ramaphosa said while providing feedback on the ANC's 54th national conference to Zwelithini at his Osuthu Palace in Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday afternoon.  

While praising the king’s “passion” for development and agriculture, Ramaphosa said that at the December conference a “far reaching decision” was taken when it was decided that “the land would be returned to our people” by expropriation without compensation.

“We are going to make sure that our people get land and that they get back to the land. We also said, and this revolves around the key issues you always articulate, that this must be based on looking at the economic activity in our country and that as we take land we do not harm the economy, we do not harm agricultural production, and we do not sacrifice food security,” said Ramaphosa.  

“This gives us the options, the possibilities, and opportunities to be able to move forward with addressing the land question and to make sure that the economy grows, because taking land should not be equal to destroying our economy. Taking land should be equal to making sure that our economy grows, farm production grows,” he said.  

“Your majesty, I know you want us to go back to basics and to start now, working the land, making sure that the land that we have got is worked fully and effectively. And in fact, it is possible for us to begin the process of working the land and improving the land and making agriculture a successful economic sector in our country. It has been going down for quite a long time. We can now upgrade agriculture through our resolution. We can make this country the Garden of Eden,” he said.  

Ramaphosa said he believed “almost two million jobs” could be provided by improving agriculture in the country.

Ramaphosa was joined on the visit by other members of the ANC's newly elected top six as part of the drive towards what he dubbed “a programme of unity and renewal”.

“The leadership before you is a unity leadership to unite our organisation and make it stronger,” Ramaphosa said. Unity was “dearly needed” in KwaZulu-Natal and the country as a whole. “We are renewing the ANC and repositioning the ANC to be fit for purpose to take on the challenges that lie ahead in terms of improving the lives of our people,” he said. 

On Monday, the new leadership will visit the gravesites of former ANC leaders in the province. Ramaphosa said that while at the graves, they would inform the leaders of the successful conference that had just been held and on the radical decisions made.

“In a symbolic way we will present the leadership to the great leaders in a true African tradition so they can get blessings from the great leaders,” he said. 

African News Agency/ANA