The Leader of the Freedom Front Plus, Pieter Mulder, says that black South Africans have no claim to at least 40% of South Africa because they did not originally live in these areas (see here).
Perhaps Mr Mulder needs to be reminded about the real history of this country. The issue is not "who-was-where-first".
The issue is the 1913 Land Act, which reserved 87% of South Africa's land mass for a small minority.
The issue is that black South Africans were told where they could own land and where they couldn't; and where they could live or couldn't.
The issue is the suffering and dispossession that black South Africans were forced to endure as a result.
The 1913 Land Act was apartheid's original sin. Its legacy lives with us today.
Instead of denying our history, as Mr Mulder does, we must do everything we can to ensure that people have access to land. We have to put right the wrongs of the past. We cannot simply wish it away. Redress is a democratic imperative.
But we have to remedy the sins of apartheid in a way that is sustainable so that all South Africans may benefit from the richness of our soil.
The first freedom is the freedom to eat. We need working farms that ensure the food security of our people and create employment opportunities in rural areas. We need shared ownership schemes and training programmes so that emerging farmers are given the wherewithal to make a success of their businesses. We need to give South Africans the opportunity to own an asset that gives them a foothold in the productive economy.
Most of all we need a land reform programme that is fair and economically viable. The answer is not to do away with the willing-seller-willing-buyer model. There is plenty of land available for the reform programme on this basis. But it is entirely mismanaged by the Department of Rural Development. The solution is an efficient Department of Rural Development that can process claims quickly and can facilitate the efficient and fair distribution of land.
If we can get that right there will be no need for anybody - whether it is Julius Malema or Pieter Mulder - to use the emotive issue of land to pander to their own narrow constituencies.
Statement issued by Mmusi Maimane, DA National Spokesperson, February 16 2012
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