Land issue is a festering sore - Ramaphosa

Whenever President Cyril Ramaphosa travels abroad and hosts a media conference, he now inevitably faces questions around land reform without expropriation. His stock answer? That without comprehensive land reform, SA's hard-won stability may come undone.

While Wednesday was no different, with the president being asked by a reporter why SA was moving in a “Marxist way” which was “disastrous for Zimbabwe”, Ramaphosa was quick to say that the land reform policies were in no way a paradox to what former President Nelson Mandela stood for.

Ramaphosa was speaking at a joint press conference with Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, in Strasbourg.

Ramaphosa's reply took up the whole of the allotted time for questions at the media conference, meaning it was the sole question asked.

In an earlier statement Ramaphosa had said he was in Strasbourg to “renew the bonds between South Africa and the European Parliament”, adding that the EU continues to be SA’s largest trading block.

Tajani, meanwhile, had said that the relationship between Africa and the EU would be unchanged following Brexit.

“We will have good relations with the UK after Brexit, we will have the same relations with South Africa," he said.

The is no land paradox

In response to the reporter’s question, Ramaphosa said that there could never be a paradox between what former President Nelson Mandela stood for and "what we are seeking to do".

“Nelson Mandela was guided by policies of the African National Congress, and guided also by the Freedom Charter,” he said.  

Ramaphosa said that 24 years after the first democratic elections, the land issue was still a “festering sore” that contained the “seeds of instability” if it was not dealt with. 

“We need to address this issue because if we don’t address it, this stability that we have ... as a country could be in danger.

"Today the issue of land may seem to be intractable ... but we are saying this problem will be resolved in line with our own SA way of finding solutions .We are not going to do it in terms of people grabbing land and creating disorder.”

Ramaphosa said landowners had started to approach government  “in the typical SA” way to sit down and find solutions. 

“The solution is going to be inclusive,” he said. 

Tajani, meanwhile, said that the EU Parliament would "understand" land reform if it is carried out in a legal and democratically transparent process without harming the economy or food production. 

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