Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has reassured white farmers in the Western Cape that land reform would be done according to the law and there would not be land grabs.
With less than a month before elections, Ramaphosa addressed white farmers and businesspeople in Stellenbosch.
“I can assure you that the land reform process is something we should never fear. It is to be done in accordance with the rule of law and the Constitution,” Ramaphosa said.
“It is not going to be land grabs where land is grabbed outside of the parameters of law.”
Ramaphosa insisted that the Constitution provided for a situation where there was security of tenure for everyone.
“Everyone must have a sense that this Constitution works for them,” the president said.
He also urged the white farmers not see themselves as an island.
“We've got to be part of the solution, we've go to be part of change. We've got to be working together. That also means we must embrace change,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that what happened in the past ought to be corrected.
He also assured the farmers that the Constitution was the best document that needed to be looked at.
“It talks about the past and future. We need to recognise injustices that happened in the past and be convinced there were horrible injustices.
"We need to work together to find solutions and that we are not being isolationists or exclusionists,” he said.
Ramaphosa told the audience that the future of the country was bright if everybody was positively committed to land reform.
“I'm saying let's look at land reform in a positive way rather than a negative way; what is it that we can do as farmers in South Africa to address this problem?” he said.
There was an ongoing process in Parliament to amend the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation, he added.
The national legislature has decided to finalise the amendment of the Constitution in the next term of Parliament after a new ad hoc committee failed to complete its work before he elections, the president noted.
“We need to look at the practical reality,” Ramaphosa said before mentioning the Expropriation Amendment Bill, which he described as “progressive”.
He said the bill looked at land owned by the state, land owned by state-owned entities, land not used and land sometimes illegally acquired.
He, however, lamented the evictions of black farmworkers that took place on farms in the Western Cape.
“We face a serious challenge of evictions where farmworkers are evicted from farms.”
Ramaphosa described the eviction of farm workers in the Western Cape as evoking memories of the implementation of the Land Act in 1913.
Responding to a question from one farmer who asked if farmers had a future in the country, Ramaphosa told the audience that the "future trajectory" of the country was about finding the ability to work together.
“We should be able to define where we differ. I want to see South Africans working together much better. We must be the best in what we, together, seek to do.
“That is why all South Africans must be embracing the best in what we do. There is a great future for all farming people, be it workers or farm owners. We need to address the key challenges,” Ramaphosa said.
“We must address some of the sensitive issues - evictions and where the people have no land. We want consensual solutions. I say: everyone, join me in making South Africa a great country,” he said.