Redressing centuries old injustice in land ownership in South Africa will take time as the government puts in place the enabling legislation to reform the current uneven land distribution, Deputy President David Mabuza has said in parliament.Due to this, landless rural communities and emerging farmers to exercise restraint by not occupying land recently advertised for land reform purposes till the laws and policies guiding land distribution are in place, the deputy president said on Thursday.
“As government, we reiterate our call to the citizens of our country to exercise restraint.
“This would allow government to implement the necessary policies and constitutional reforms aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past as reflected in skewed and inequitable patterns of land access and ownership,” Mabuza told the house.
Replying to a parliamentarian’s question on land reforms, he added: “It is critical that we put in place enabling policies to regulate access to land for human settlements and for agriculture.
“This should be so, especially for emerging farmers and communities, wherein we prioritise women and youth who form the majority of our population as well as people with disabilities, who have been marginalised for the longest time.”
“Where blatant violations, incitement of violence, lawlessness and land grabs occur, the law must take its course,” Mabuza, who is the chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform, said.
During the session, opposition Economic Freedom Fighters’ Chief Whip, Floyd Shivambu, asked Mabuza if he had been informed that some of the land advertised for State disposal to emerging farmers was in fact occupied and being used by communities and emerging farmers.
Mabuza said he was aware of this development.
This was why he was urging compatriots to refrain from taking the law into their own hands, but let the government pass new land governing policies for an orderly land distribution system, he told the House.
South Africa, one of the most unequal societies in the world, has a lopsided land ownership in which 70 percent of valuable land was in the hands of 13 percent of the country’s minority white population.
This has development has left the majority black population occupying hilly and unproductive terrain – a product of the European settlers’ violent land-grabbing policies that culminated in apartheid rule.