Durban – Former president Jacob Zuma questioned perceptions about private property ownership in European countries via his Twitter account on Wednesday.
Zuma had taken to the social media platform to address “the land issue”.
“My information says European countries don’t sell land to private people or companies. It is in the hands of the state. If you want to use it, you lease it. Why in our case it should be different?” said Zuma in a two-part video clip.
Zuma did not name the “European countries” he was talking about.
“I have been becoming more convinced that the drafters of the Freedom Charter were more advanced than us because they talked about nationalisation of the land, and that is what the developed countries do. No land is sold to individuals,” Zuma said.
Zuma said that in order to “resolve” South Africa’s land issue, it had to be dealt with in a “frank and straight” debate.
“We are discussing [the land issue] too much for my liking,” he said.
In the first part of the clip, Zuma said there was a “long debate” taking place in the country since the African National Congress (ANC) took a clear resolution on the land issue at its national conference at Nasrec in December 2017.
It had been agreed that willing buyer, willing seller and paying market related prices for land had not solved the problem, he said.
“That is why the ANC debated the matter and took a very clear resolution that we must have an expropriation of land without compensation. I don’t know why there is a long debate about this matter. The matter is simple,” he said.
“We cannot change the facts of history that after the Berlin Conference, whites came [to] South Africa in particular, came in and took the land. The struggle, the wars that were fought, many thousands of people died defending the land,” Zuma said.
South African History Online describes the Berlin Conference as “the formalisation of the Scramble for Africa"
This British coined the term sometime in 1884, and it has since been used to describe the twenty-plus years when the various European powers explored, divided, conquered and began to exploit virtually the entire African continent”.
Zuma explained in his clip: “Some were actually removed from a huge stretch of land in the Western Cape, in particular our brothers the Khoisan people. You can’t say those thing did not happen. Nor can you say that because they happened, they happened, fine.”
For freedom to be complete, the land issue had to be resolved, he said. “The ills of the black people in South Africa – the biggest portion of it emanates from the land dispossession. Solve the problem of the land and you will solve poverty in this country, inequality, and economic issues,” Zuma said.
“If you want to keep the land where it is now and sell it to people who have got no money, you are prolonging the problem, a painful problem to the black people. I don’t know why we should be debating the matter. The matter is clear,” he said.
This was not to say those who owned land should no longer own it, he said. “We are saying those who own huge stretches of land must share it with those who are indigenous, who owned this land before. We are not going to dispossess them, that is not the debate as I heard in the ANC conference,” he said.