Mabuza: Land must be returned to the landless

Cape Town – Deputy President David Mabuza has told Parliament during his first question session in the National Assembly that land must be returned to the landless.

Mabuza took to the podium for his maiden outing in his new post in Parliament on Tuesday to answer six questions and their follow-ups in the House.

Responding to a question from NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam, Mabuza said the EFF correctly identified economic freedom and emancipation as core problems.

"This is the stress that our people are facing, that means we can no longer avoid these questions that are confronting ourselves.

"If we want to survive as a nation, we can no longer protect the status quo.

"Land must be given back to the rightful owners. Land is a means to help people survive."

'We don't seek reverse discrimination'

He said South Africans should take the journey together, but also said the country must heed recent calls made by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"We are going to heed the call made by the president, that we don't seek to push other people away. We don't seek reverse discrimination in this case.

"But for those who have acquired this land, they must be aware that it's time to release it."

ALSO READ: Land expropriation: Farmers stuck in limbo as investor uncertainty mounts

Parliament should find mechanisms to manage the process to review section 25 of the Constitution for the benefit of the country, he said.

"I think all of us, we can share this land. If you have a neighbour who owns 31 000 hectares of land..." Mabuza said.

"Mr Ramaphosa?" shouted DA MP John Steenhuisen.

"...and you have someone who does not even own a title [deed], it's unfair," Mabuza continued.

"Therefore, we should not be scattered. The land issue will unveil new opportunities for those who were excluded."

Land must be worked

Once handed over, the land, however, is not for people to sleep on, he said. It must be given to those who are going to work it and make it productive.

"Government has tried very hard. The social security grant system has kept people alive, but radical economic transformation is taking them to the next step.

"Our fellow South Africans who are rich, let us share this richness for the sake of our country. Let us pull those in poverty out of poverty."

Those who had inherited land would find it necessary, going forward, to share the land.

WATCH: Ramaphosa says there are lessons to learn from Zimbabwe on land reform

Steenhuisen asked in a follow-up question what the exact impediments to land reform currently were as the law stood.

Some ANC MPs, including Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, had said before the ANC's elective conference in December that expropriation without compensation was not the answer, Steenhuisen argued.

Restitution 'is a fact'

"Section 25 has not been tested, but I'm happy with the resolution of the House that will give us an extra lever to deal with this matter," Mabuza answered.

"All of us sitting here, we have different standing and different views.

"Not all delegates [at the ANC's conference] were agreeing to expropriation without compensation. But finally, a view prevailed over everything.

"So whatever comrade Hanekom was saying, it was his personal view. At the end of the day he was bound by the resolution of the congress.

"It's a fact that land must be returned back to those who are landless," he finished.

The ANC caucus gave Mabuza an extended applause when he concluded his first appearance on the national stage.

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