Johannesburg - Deputy President David Mabuza has appealed to wealthy white farmers who own large tracts of land to volunteer some of it to black people.
Mabuza made the plea on Friday during the 39th anniversary of the execution of Solomon Mahlangu - a former Umkhonto we Sizwe operative - at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Services Centre (formerly Pretoria Central Prison) yesterday.
Earlier, the Nzuza Royal House, which is part of the Mahlangu Royal family, challenged Mabuza to speed up the process of land redistribution.
The Royal House reminded Mabuza that their chieftaincy had been restored to them “but not their land”.
Prince George Mahlangu said his family, which included Solomon, continued to look up to the ANC as their liberators and a “party that brought freedom in the country”.
But, he said, as the chieftaincy, land was taken away from their family.
He said Martha, the mother of Mahlangu, died supporting the ANC despite the hardship her family endured due to landlessness.
Mabuza said: “The land will come back; do not despair.”
He told the Ndebele clan that Parliament’s decision to set up the joint constitutional review committee (JCRC) to look into the feasibility of the expropriation of land without compensation was aimed at finding a “peaceful resolution” to the land question.
He emphasised that white people, who own most of the land, should find it in their best interests to shed some of it.
According to Mabuza, if white farmers agree to volunteer some of their land, the country would avoid a violent takeover.
He said it was not comforting that 80% of the land was in the hands of a few people.
He pleaded with black people to exercise patience and to allow parliamentary processes to run their course.
“It (land expropriation) will take time.
“It won’t happen now. It needs the support of white farmers whose home is South Africa,” he said.
“We must share in the wealth of the country.
“It is not right that one family owns 13000 hectares of land and the other family has nothing.
“There must be a willingness to correct the mistakes of the past and to move forward.
“We must resolve the challenges in a peaceful manner,” Mabuza said.
His call comes as the JCRC on land expropriation, headed by Vincent Smith and Lewis Nzimande, is preparing for public hearings on the matter due to begin on May 8.
The review committee is due to begin meetings in Limpopo and the Northern Cape, and is expected to conclude on June 22 in the Western Cape.
Smith said committee members would split themselves into two groups to conduct the hearings and to cover a larger part of the country.
Several agricultural unions and parties who were opposed to the parliamentary decision said they would participate in the hearings.