Ramaphosa: Economic freedom means land must be returned

Land reform is essential for economic freedom to be realised, President Cyril Ramaphosa said when he delivered his Freedom Day address at the Dr Rantlai Petrus Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday.

During his address he stressed the importance of intensifying radical economic transformation and the need for land reform. “Economic freedom means that the land that was taken from black South Africans needs to be returned,” he said.

“We are committed to accelerate the redistribution of land, both in urban and rural areas, to ensure that poor South Africans are able to own land and have the means to work it.”

Parliament adopted the motion for land expropriation without compensation in February. Earlier this month a committee of Parliament investigating whether sections of the Constitution must be amended to facilitate expropriation of land without compensation called for public submissions by May 31. 

Ramaphosa has reiterated multiple times that land reform will not be implemented in a way that threatens food security or agricultural production.

“Among the measures we will use to accelerate redistribution is that of expropriation without compensation where it is necessary and justified,” he said.

He called on South Africans to be part of a process of consultation to ensure that land redistribution is implemented in a way that is “meaningful” and “contributes to a stronger economy, greater agricultural production and improved food security”.

He called land reform a means to extend property rights to all South Africans.

Ramaphosa recently appointed four investment envoys to meet with global investors ahead of an investment summit scheduled for August or September. He hopes the summit will kick start a plan to raise R1.2trn in new investments over the next five years.

Critics have raised concerns that expropriation without compensation would make achieving this ambitious figure difficult.  

The South African Institute of Race Relations earlier this month arguing that land expropriation would stir investor fears around the security of investments and property rights.

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