President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to the debate on his maiden state-of-the-nation address. PHOTO: Cindy Waxa/ANA Photo
PARLIAMENT - South African president Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday pleaded with the country's citizens to view the envisaged redistribution of land as an opportunity to help heal wounds and not as a threat on them or their properties.

"We must see this process of acceleration of land distribution as an opportunity rather than a threat," Ramaphosa said in his reply to the debate on his state-of-the-nation address, which saw MPs deliver impassioned arguments in favour of or against the expropriation of land without redistribution.

"We should see this as something that frees us all from bitterness and pain but allows us to move forward to the great opportunities our country holds."

Ramaphosa, who took a walk from Gugulethu to Athlone on Tuesday morning as part of a campaign to get South Africans to be more healthy, recalled encountering Capetonian Cedric Alberts.

"This morning while I was walking from Gugulethu to Athlone I met a gentleman. He's 73-year-old. He says to me 'I was moved form District Six with my family and my house was bulldozed and to this day I do not have a house. I rent a house. I lost everything that I had',"  Ramaphosa recalled the conversation.

"That is a pain that needs to be addressed. It's a division that we must heal."

Ramaphosa said it was a pain that many South Africans could not and would not forget.

"His dignity was razed to the floor. What should we say to him? His family story illustrates in vivid terms the pain and the damage caused by the former rulers of this land. The expropriation of land without compensation is one of the measures that we will use to accelerate redistribtution of land to black South Africans." 

The president reiterated the expropriation of land without compensation and the redistribution thereof would be done in a manner that protected jobs, agricultural production and the economy.

African News Agency/ANA