Johannesburg – The ANC must implement its land reform policies quickly or they will be overtaken by opposition parties.
This was the stern warning given to the ruling party by political analyst Somadoda Fikeni, of the University of South Africa, as he reminded the ANC of their promise to implement radical economic transformation.
"If the ruling party doesn't move fast, in a self-automated process, these things will happen; other contesting political parties will amplify them even if they are not in government in a manner that they simply take the same programmes and hone them and articulate them in the simplest form, in the crudest form, so that everybody will simply say 'here is the message'," Fikeni said.
"So there is a sense of urgency in the point of government."
He was speaking at a round-table discussion held at the ANC's Luthuli House headquarters in Johannesburg.
Revolution in danger
The meeting was attended by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, ANC political education sub-committee chairperson Nathi Mthethwa, and former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, in his capacity of head of the ANC's political school.
Mthethwa echoed Fikeni's sentiments.
"If we do not do what we say we should do... indeed our revolution will be in danger," he said.
Nkwinti said one of the things that had caused delays in the implementation of land claims and redistribution was the burden of proof that lay with the land claimants.
"We have to look at the law itself. Does it fairly represent the acquisition of the law of that land?"
He said this would be resolved through new laws that would balance the scales against both – those who currently occupy the land and those who claim to have previously owned it.
Nkwinti admitted that there had been delays in the process of land reform, saying government had also made some mistakes, but that they were working to fix this.
He described the issue of land as a "sensitive one".
Fikeni stressed that the issue of land grabs in South Africa was nothing new.
He claimed that, while many feared that South Africa would be like Zimbabwe if it agreed to land grabs, South Africa had seen land grabs in the early 1990s, before Zimbabwe.
"The pressure was already there, but it had an urban orientation or twist to it, whereas in Zimbabwe it was with the farmers and the government was involved.
"So we should dispel the myth that people were waiting for some law somewhere to distribute land," he said.