The South African government has embarked on a range of measures to accelerate comprehensive land reform and expand agricultural production, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
“These measures, in addition to correcting a historical injustice, aim to unlock the economic potential of our land and our people,” Ramaphosa said at an event marking the National Women’s Day in Paarl near Cape Town.
The president took advantage of the opportunity to defend the government’s policy on land reform which has met with strong criticism.
“The return of the land will have little meaning and limited effect unless it is returned to all those from whom it was taken, both women and men,” Ramaphosa said.
He stressed that the land reform should not exclude women.
“It is essential that we use this process to ensure equitable access for women to land in both rural and urban areas – for agriculture, for housing and for business purposes,” the president said.
Ramaphosa was speaking amid growing fears that South Africa would become another Zimbabwe where a failed land reform had once plunged the country into anarchy.
On July 31, Ramaphosa announced that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) would change the South African Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
AfriForum, an association of South African white farmers, has called on the international community to get Ramaphosa to stop the proposed plans.
“We know that disrespect for property rights will have a negative effect on any country,” AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said, citing Venezuela and Zimbabwe as examples.
Ramaphosa has repeatedly said his government will not allow land grabs and anarchy in the process of finding a solution for the land issue.