South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. File Photo: ANA

DURBAN - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said his government is on a drive to hand over title deeds to new homeowners to show people the impact of “radical economic transformation”.

Ramaphosa was speaking at a title deed hand-over ceremony in the predominantly Xhosa community of Franklin near Kokstad, southern KwaZulu-Natal. Hours earlier he had officiated the opening of the new Kokstad Home Affairs office.

The president made a call to communities to become more engaged in local government affairs - from planning to budget processes - so that government did not have to wait “for service delivery protests to respond to the problems people face”.

“This [handover] event is significant because it forms part of the work we are doing together to restore the dignity of South Africa’s people. From the wars of dispossession to the 1913 Natives’ Land Act to the Group Areas Act and other apartheid legislation, black South Africans were denied the right to own property. Millions of Africans, coloured and Indian South Africans were forcibly removed from their land, stripped of their assets and consigned to a life of poverty,” said Ramaphosa.

He said since 1994, the ANC government had been “working to correct this historical injustice” by providing houses to the poor, land restitution and through the provision of basic services.
 
“We have now embarked on a programme to accelerate land reform, which will provide land and support to black farmers, secure the property rights of all those who work and live on the land, and identify well-located areas for social housing in urban areas. Part of that programme is to give people the opportunity to own their own homes,” said the president.

Ramaphosa said in a country where the majority of the population own few assets, home ownership would be seen as a “form of radical economic transformation”.
 
“It improves the prospects not only for those who are given title deeds, but also the generations who will follow. Home ownership can contribute to improved educational outcomes and reduce household poverty. Families are more secure and communities are more stable."
 
He said the issuing of title deeds was part of a “broader effort to put our people at the centre of service delivery”.

“When people are involved in the provision of basic services they in turn take full ownership and care of public resources. It is not enough for government to work for the people; it needs to work with the people,” said Ramaphosa.

He further said that communities needed to work with the police to tackle crime and work with education officials to improve schools while working closely with local councillors to improve service delivery and promote local economic development.

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African News Agency (ANA)