President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has insisted that the government will not allow land invasions during the expropriation of land without compensation.

He said the report compiled by the presidential panel on land reform was being processed by Cabinet.

Fielding questions in Parliament on Thursday, the president indicated there was still a need to address land reform in the country. He said the government has so far released 14000 hectares of land to some citizens.

This, he explained, is one measure to deal with land restitution and redistribution.

Parliament is also busy with the process to amend Section 25 of the Constitution which will allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee between June and August last year travelled across the country where it hosted public hearings for the review of Section 25. It is also hoped that the process will be wrapped up before March.

Ramaphosa in the meantime says the process will continue to be rigorous and open to public scrutiny. He warned that the government will not allow land invasions.

“We are going to have a scope and ability to move on this. We will make sure land is returned to the people. As we have said before, we will not do it in a reckless manner.”

He highlighted that the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec conference resolution on land was clear on steps to be taken in this matter.

During the question-and-answer session, Ramaphosa also addressed what he termed as the country’s dire economic status, saying the economy would have to grow at a faster pace to deal with the high unemployment rate.

Statistics SA released its latest figures this week and indicated that unemployment had peaked to 29.1%.

Ramaphosa acknowledged that the economy wasn’t improving.

He said there was an urgent need to cut debt and reduce spending.

The government is faced with a spiralling debt of more than R3trillion with huge debt service costs.

Ramaphosa indicated that debt service costs were now one of the largest budget expenditure items. He said the government had implemented some reforms that would improve the economy.

The government has now set its sights on meeting with the labour force to discuss the public sector wage bill. Cosatu earlier warned that public servants must not be held responsible for the government’s problems.

Ramaphosa said the wage bill was taking 46% of the budget. He also announced that the government had increased funding for gender-based violence.

EFF MP Naledi Chirwa pointed out that nothing has happened since Ramaphosa announced interventions.

In his reply to her, Ramaphosa said the government has increased funding for gender-based violence from R1.1billion to R1.6bn.

IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe was also quick to point out that there were over 5000 social workers sitting at home, and could be employed by the state.

Ramaphosa said they would employ more than 200 social workers to work with survivors of gender-based violence.

Political Bureau