President Cyril Ramaphosa replying to the debate on his State of the Nation Address in Parliament. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has insisted he is on track with the land reform programme and wants Parliament to finalise the Expropriation Bill soon.

Parliament has set up an ad hoc committee to deal with the expropriation of land without compensation.

ANC MP Mathole Motshekga is chairing that committee and the Constitutional Review Committee.

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza previously chaired the ad hoc committee on the expropriation of land without compensation.

In his reply to the debate on the State of the Nation Address on Wednesday, Ramaphosa told the House that the panel on land reform will release the report soon.

The panel is chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza and was appointed by Ramaphosa last year.

“This report will inform the finalisation of a comprehensive, far-reaching and transformative land reform programme. Among the important tasks of this new Parliament is to finalise constitutional amendments to clearly indicate how expropriating land without compensation will be put into effect,” Ramaphosa said.

“Parliament will also need to debate and finalise the Expropriation Bill, which deals with the modalities and the circumstances in which expropriation will take place,” he said.

He said expropriation was an important land acquisition strategy.

“Expropriation without compensation, in defined circumstances, allows us to do so at a cost that is reasonable for the South African people,” he said, adding this was one objective of achieving agrarian reform.

EFF leader Julius Malema had criticised Ramaphosa, saying he had abandoned the 2017 ANC Nasrec conference resolutions to expropriate land without compensation.

But Ramaphosa said he agreed with Malema’s comments that the country will not deal with its social ills if it doesn’t address the land question.

Ramaphosa also said his government is dealing with the problems facing struggling State-Owned Entities, noting they have provided support to Eskom, SA Airways (SAA) and state arms manufacturer Denel.

Denel failed to pay its workers on time and it was rescued by a financial institution.

SAA is facing its own financial crisis as it needs more than R21billion to run its business.

Eskom is getting a bailout of R250bn and the power utility needs cash urgently.

Ramaphosa also expressed concern at the state of municipalities.

The president reminded DA leader Mmusi Maimane that they will continue implementing the National Health Insurance (NHI).

The government has been piloting the NHI in 10 districts in the last seven years.

Former health minister Aaron Motsoaledi had said this was a workable programme and was implemented in the UK, Qatar and parts of Europe.

Political Bureau