Zuma on land: Less debate, more nationalisation
Former president Jacob Zuma says there is too much debate about land expropriation without compensation, and has suggested that land should be nationalised.
In two video messages on Twitter, Zuma on Wednesday outlined his thoughts on the land question, which dominated the South African political debate in 2018, and is set to continue in 2019.
Zuma made reference to the debate and said people would surely remember the decision of the ANC's national elective conference in December 2017. He said that buying land at market prices for land reform didn't work.
"We have all agreed now, that has not solved the problem. And that is why the ANC has debated the matter and took a very clear resolution that we must have the expropriation of land without compensation," he said.
In fact, what the ANC conference resolved was that the expropriation of land without compensation should be pursued, subject to a feasibility study to ensure that food security and the economy were not threatened.
"Conference resolved that the ANC should, as a matter of policy, pursue expropriation of land without compensation. This should be pursued without destabilising the agricultural sector, without endangering food security in our country and without undermining economic growth and job creation," read the ANC's conference declaration.
Zuma continued, saying: "I don’t know why there is a long debate about this matter.
"The matter is simple, we cannot change the facts of history," he said before referencing South Africa's history of dispossession of blacks by whites since the advent of colonialism.
"The freedom would not be complete if the issue of land is not resolved, that people who were colonised – their land taken by force – have their land," Zuma said, emphasising his point by shaking his hands.
"The ills of the black people of South Africa, the bigger portion of it, emanates from the land dispossession. You solve the problem of the land, you solve the poverty in this country, inequalities and the economic issues."
'We are not going to dispossess them'
He added that if the status quo remained, it would prolong the "painful problem of the black people".
"I don’t know why we should be debating the matter," he said again. "The matter is clear. We are not saying that those who own land, must not own land. We are saying that those who own huge stretches of land, must share it with those who are indigenous who owned this land before.
"We are not going to dispossess them. That is not the debate as I heard in the ANC conference. Let us make use of this resource, to all South Africans."
Zuma then suggested that he favoured nationalisation.
"My information says, European countries don’t sell land to private people or companies. It is in the hands of the state. If you want to use it, you lease it. Why in our case it should be different?"
Zuma didn’t say which countries he was referring to. He said he has become convinced that drafters of the Freedom Charter were "more advanced than us'.
"Because they talked about nationalisation of the land. And that's what the developed countries do. No land is sold to individuals," he claimed, once again not naming specific countries.
'We are discussing it too much, for my liking'
"Land is an important resource for the nation. That’s why the debate must be frank and straight and we must resolve the matter.
"We are discussing it too much, for my liking. Thank you very much," Zuma concluded.
Zuma's views on nationalisation are more in line with the EFF's policy on land than with those of the party he once led.
After the Joint Constitutional Review Committee's report on amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation, the EFF said it would not support a constitutional amendment that doesn't entail the nationalisation of all land, while the ANC made it clear it favours a system of mixed land ownership.
Several Twitter users enquired from the former head of state why his views on land did not translate to policy while he was president. The question remains unanswered at the time of writing.
During Zuma's time in the Union Buildings, spending on land reform decreased, so much so that by the 2018/19 budget, the budget items for land reform and VIP protections were similar.
Between 2007/08 and 2014/15 the land reform budget had fallen by 32%. In 2008 the budget allocation to land reform was at 0.9% of the national budget.
By 2014/15 it had dropped to 0.5% of the national budget, AfricaCheck reported. Zuma took office in 2009 and resigned in February 2018.