Johannesburg – Issues of land reform must be dealt with urgently in order to resolve historic injustices if South Africa is to have peace, said Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.
He was speaking at the final Progressive Business Forum breakfast part of the ANC’s 54th national conference on Wednesday.
During his address, Radebe said land reform needs to be prioritised. “This land reform programme has not moved quick and fast enough,” he said in a question and answer session.
Land reform is a “burning issue”. He referred to the 1913 Land Act, loosely quoting the ANC’s first secretary general Sol Plaatje’s prophetic announcement: “Awakening that Friday morning the native did not find himself without land but a pariah in the land of his own birth.”
He explained that clarity needs to be reached soon. “Without addressing this historic injustice, we will never have peace in the country.”
Other priorities include the transference of title deeds. The government has established a task team which includes Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu and North West premier Supra Mahumapelo to “accelerate” the rollout of the programme.
Ahead of the breakfast, Radebe spoke to journalists about the policies under discussion during the commissions at the conference. These extend beyond the organisation’s renewal and include social peace and stability and economic transformation.
Radebe said the policy recommendations and resolutions made at the policy conference in June will likely be adopted and endorsed at the closing of the national conference. “So that it can lay the basics of what the ANC needs to do in the next five years, especially to instruct those who will be in government to implement our vision 2030; the National Development Plan, to deal decisively with unemployment, poverty and inequality.”
Radebe emphasised the programme of economic transformation must be implemented to ensure that the “economic heights in South Africa must be shared by all South Africans”, as this inclusive growth can ensure the delivery of required jobs.
He said progress is being made through the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) since 2014, particularly in the area of health, which has seen life expectancy grow from 64 years to 67 years for females specifically.
“[This] indicates the case that the execution of the NDP is beginning to give results. More than three million South Africans who are HIV positive are now on anti-retro viral drugs, but there are many areas.”
Other areas include the fact that 95% of South Africans now have access to electricity and 85% have access to water.
“This doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges; we have challenges in the economy, but we are turning the corner as we’ve seen in the third quarter that there has been 2% economic growth, and we want to take advantage of that in propelling forward with the new leadership that has been elected.
Collaborating with private sector
Radebe also remarked on the importance of government partnering with the private sector, a common theme running through the Progressive Business Forum breakfasts. The “pivotal” role of the private sector to deliver on socio-economic policy must be recognised, he said.
“A capable and developmental state needs a thriving private sector to support investment, which will support job creation.”
The private sector accounts for two-thirds of investment and three-quarters of employment, said Radebe.
He commended collaborations such as the CEO Initiative as imperative in boosting needed growth and investment. Radebe said that investment to GDP is below 20%, compared to the 23.5% recorded in 2008.
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