Zuma moots reopening of land restitution process

2011-05-10 17:06

President Jacob Zuma was “happy’’ that Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Gugile Nkwinti had raised the possibility of asking government to reopen the land restitution process – which he said had been “very brief’’.

Zuma, who campaigned in Mpumalanga today, said the process would have to be discussed “sensitively’’ to avoid scaring away foreign investors.He wrapped up today’s campaigning at Nokaneng in the JS Moroka municipality, with a rally attended by thousands of locals, after a day of meetings with local traditional leaders and ANC activists.

The area is a staunch ANC stronghold – it took all 30 wards in 2006 and holds 53 of 60 seats in the municipality – but has been plagued by political infighting which has led to the firing of municipal manager Monic Mathebela last month.

Zuma first met traditional leaders from the area to address their concerns over tensions with local ANC councillors and unresolved land claims in the predominantly rural district. He told the leaders that the ANC would intervene and ensure that councillors worked with them. Zuma advised them against standing as councillors themselves out of frustration and to remain in the realm of appointed as opposed to elected leadership.

The provincial House of Traditional Leaders has come out in support of the ANC and Zuma went out of his way to reassure them that they would not be sidelined by elected ANC representatives.

A planned series of visits to a number of local developmental projects, including crucial water and public transport initiatives had to be called off because Zuma, who is suffering from flu, had arrived in the area later than expected.Zuma met with local ANC leaders to give them a pep talk about the need to get the ANC vote out on May 18. He went on to address locals at the rally, at which he was accompanied by Mpumalanga Premier and ANC chairperson David Mabuza.

JS Moroka, which includes the Siyabuswa area, and five other rural municipalities fall under the Nkangala District Municipality. The ANC has a lock on the district, with 214 of the 260 seats under its control. Nkangala is being contested by the ANC and DA. Today’s campaign saw a turnout mainly of young unemployed people and the elderly.

The bulk of the local working-age population are migrants or farm workers as much of the district is made up of villages surrounded by large commercial and game farms and nature reserves.Residents say the most important local issues are the provision of water and unemployment, followed by public transport and roads.

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