President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has emphasised the importance of speeding up land reform as a means of restoring the dignity of those dispossessed.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an event at Matzikama Municipality, in the northernmost part of the Western Cape yesterday, flanked by Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Premier Helen Zille.

He handed out title deeds for 3990 hectares of 178 Vanrhynsdorp Beeswater commercial farmlands to the direct descendants of the Griqua Community that had settled on the farm since 1926.

Ramaphosa said 392 of 422 claims had been settled in the West Coast Municipality by last month.

In his speech, Ramaphosa described the event as a historic occasion, because it included the first settled land claim in the Western Cape to descendants of the Griqua people.

“The slow pace of reform has caused impatience among our people, and justifiably so,” he said.

“Having land returned to its rightful owners is just the first step towards sustainable and enduring land reform.

“It is a priority of this government to ensure that we provide the necessary support to communities who have had their land returned to them in order for it to be utilised productively and effectively, and to support our broader goals of agricultural growth and economic transformation.

“I am therefore particularly pleased that the Ebenhaeser community wants to use the land for productive purposes.

“There are already various agricultural activities, including livestock farming, taking place on some of the farms, and three harvests have been completed so far.”

Ramaphosa said land reform was not just important for social justice but also a drive to grow the economy and create jobs.

“We have a vibrant and diverse agricultural sector and it is ripe for investment.

“As more land is made available for agriculture and its associated activities, and more historically disadvantaged communities are brought into the mainstream, we will be better able to ensure our nation’s food security,” he added.

“The story of farmworkers and labour tenants in the Western Cape, like the story of farmworkers elsewhere, is a story of rootlessness, of dispossession, and of being denied one of the most fundamental securities as a human being, knowing that the roof you have over your head today, will still be yours tomorrow.

“For decades the communities represented here have waited for justice. Despite the length of time it has taken, they have been patient,” Ramaphosa said.

Weekend Argus