In a speech marked by heckling, President Cyril Ramaphosa told delegates at the ANC’s elective conference that ensuring access to land for all those who work and need it, remains an essential part of an inclusive economy.
Ramaphosa, who is seeking a second term as the ANC’s president, spoke largely on reviving the economy and fighting corruption. He is set to face Zweli Mkhize for the party’s top post at the conference currently underway at the Nasrec expo centre.
In his address, the president also touched on a failed resolution of the ANC’s 2017 conference where the party agreed to pursue expropriation without compensation. This, he said, should not deter party members and government to continue accelerating land redistribution.
‘Let’s be sensitive to expropriation’
However, the expropriation of land must not undermine future investment in the country nor hinder agricultural production and food security, added Ramaphosa.
“Our interventions must not cause harm to other sectors of the economy. As the 54th national conference recognised, the pace of land reform has been slow to meet the needs of the majority of citizens who remain landless.
“Since the advent of democracy, government has transferred over 4 million hectares through restitution and over 5 million hectares through redistribution, accounting for nearly 11% of commercial farmland,” Ramaphosa pointed out.
This is, however, far below the initial target of 30% by 2014, he explained. Ramaphosa said despite failing to pass the expropriation bill of expropriation of land without compensation they would pursue other available options.
“There are a few instruments we will use to drive meaningful land reform, not only to correct the historical injustices but to also use our land more effectively for economic growth and transformation. The ownership of land and the transfer thereof in rural areas under the control of our traditional leaders is being addressed with their full participation.”
Furthermore, Ramaphosa pointed out that his administration prioritised agriculture and agro-processing as significant areas of job creation and economic growth. Also, climate change issues should be urgently addressed as it could affect food security and the everyday life of South Africans.
“We need to reduce emissions not only for the sake of health, economic wellbeing and security of our people, but to ensure that our manufactured products and services remain competitive in a changing global economy.”
‘See agriculture as a business’
President of the National African Farmers Union (Nafu), Motsepe Matlala earlier told Food For Mzansi that he was expecting the ANC conference to conclude with a paradigm shift in the party’s attitude towards agriculture and land reform.
He added that the party needed to see agriculture as a business and not as a political tool to advance its own agendas. “Unless the ANC prioritises agriculture and food security, our country is doomed.”
Matlala furthermore called on delegates at the ANC conference to revisit land reform and agricultural policies to ensure that a conducive environment was created for food producers in South Africa.